As I sit here at my patio table, I see the sunlight illuminating a grouping of tall shrubs. The effect is a bit like organic stained glass, shades of moss and green and yellow. If I were to walk around the corner, I would duck my head over a canopy of pink, dewy flowers, and then continue onward towards the bougainvillea. These vibrant flowers explode, and each magenta blossoms.
It’s rarely this still. Even the roosters are quiet. I have maybe an hour or two before I need to pick up the kids from school, and I must fight the urge to be more productive.
I am so hard-wired to stay busy that even as I sit here, listening to the birds flit from tree to tree, and watching my dog sniff for the perfect section of grass, I notice that there are leaves I must sweep, and laundry to take down from the line. I remind myself that there are verbs that allude me, bills to be paid, and calls to return.
This monkey mind, this American need to constantly move—it creates empires of exhausted people. We don’t savor our food, or watch a lizard crawl up the wall. We’re too busy for coffee, and too tired to walk at dusk.
But it’s hard to break old habits. I stay busy because I am happier when I move. As a functioning depressive, this is mostly very healthy and wise.
As I walk down the streets, I see old men, in straw hats and white shirts, sitting with a cafe at a table. They drink, and read the paper, and talk to people as they pass. I imagine that they, too, toiled for years, These men lived in the days of Franco, and now the crisis.
And yet, they have the acquired the wisdom of the still. They allow this life to be enough, and they notice the perfection of the foamy leche, the crunch and give of a tostada, and the fragile grace of conversation.
I yearn for more of this. They call it mindfulness in certain circles, meditation in others, but it is all the same thing. It’s a decision to notice how the shadow moves across the patio, or recognize the interior needs which we so often smother.
The world blooms in Spain, as it does in Maryland, or Tokyo, or North Dakota. There are moments so incredibly lovely and pure.
I need to stop running from them.