Letter from a vagabond 12 12 2018 The things we can do…


For the last twenty-four hours, I have laid low, after coming down Monday afternoon with a cold, not terrible, but enough to feel miserable, to use up more than one box of tissues, to have a cough, to pray for scientists to come up with a cure.

Monday I was working at the bookstore, happily going along until, rather suddenly, a sniffle became a snuffle, and all went downhill from there.

It is Wednesday, and I am pretty sure I am on the mend, having doubled down on vitamin C, drinking lots of fluids, including doses of Airborne, utilizing nasal spray, and staying warm.  Are you supposed to starve a cold and feed a fever or is it the other way around?  I never remember though I think I am erring on the side of starving the cold as I haven’t had much appetite.

The view out the window of the house where I am staying is stunning, Edgartown Harbor, with Chappaquiddick across the bay and beyond that the Atlantic, and I have awakened the last two days to devour the beauty that is in front of me.

In the last couple of years, freed from having to be in an office at a certain time I have developed a new rhythm in the morning.  Waking relatively early, I have a little caffeine to start the engine, and spend some time reading the news on my phone.  It is the dose of reality I allow myself every day; to do more would be to invite the gnawing and gnashing of teeth.

One of the things I have discovered, is that generally, as I move through my small routine, there comes a moment of gratitude.  Not every day but most days.  Now in my 60’s [however did that happen?], I have lived longer than I would have thought when I was a college student indulging too much in the pleasures of my day.  Or in my twenties, grappling with being alive and making sense of that.

Here I am, sitting, looking out at the water, enjoying the moment.  It felt this way last summer, working at the bookstore, when I was living in “The Best Most Exotic Marigold Hotel” of guesthouses and this fall in St. Malo, in the wonderful hotel there, facing a day of wandering the streets of that small walled town.

My European journey reminded me of the ragged and often bloody road we have taken to this moment in history.  The Ossuary at Verdun is captured on my phone and in my heart, a reminder of the evil done by humans.

Yet we laugh. And joke.  Have moments of great kindness; talk of things great and small.

An old friend of mine worked with an illegal immigrant in sanctuary, helping her return to her country of birth, in hopes she could then return to the United States, legally, to be with her family here. And that gives a sense of Christmas hope.

I look for ways to move the needle of goodness in the world.  Today, I will smile spontaneously at someone and see if there is some small kindness I can accomplish.

The huge issues; I still work to see how I can affect them.  Sometimes, I feel there is nothing I can do against the assaults happening in the world and yet feel I must try.

That’s the gift of life.  We get to try.

There is tragedy in Yemen and countless other places and I am here, absorbing the beauty in front of me, and not ignoring what else there is in the world and accepting, at this second, there are limits to what I can do while knowing I need to move the needle a little here, in this little space of time I own.

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