Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Advice from Olive and Walt Whitman :-)

The difference between walking by and being still on the beach is in what you see. That a frilled and fleshy creature still churned inside its shell, for instance, would have escaped my notice altogether had I not been standing with feet planted on the hard wet sand of the Atlantic's low tide. A small movement in the exposed ocean bed caught my eye, proof that something of wonder always rewards stillness in the out of doors. At my feet was a thumb-sized rocket-shaped olive shell, propelled by its inner mollusk, pushing a tiny crumbly hill of sand ahead of itself in a brave attempt to go back home. Its wake was a long shallow trail in the sand.

With apologies, I interrupted its journey and rolled it over, and after watching awhile, improved its lie to softer sand at the edge of a tide pool. It dug right in.

This was back in September on Tybee Island, GA, just before I returned to the busy-ness of home and the resulting abandonment of my intention to resume spending an hour a day outside in silent observation. Now, five months later, the memory of that gastropod working so hard to get back to a place where it could thrive compels me to make an equal effort to return to that nourishing honey of daily quietude.

In his original preface to Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman wrote,

". . . This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals . . . , read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life . . . , dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem . . . ."

Today, along with the olive snail's valiant ruffling and the re-reading of Whitman's sweet words, I renew my intention to be still outside for a time every day to pay attention to whatever is there—and to see itdkm