Saturday, October 1, 2011

Small Gifts

Gifts are on my mind lately; literal material gifts,  as well as philosophical.  It was my birthday last week.  I got one mailed birthday card, but at least 30 birthday wishes on Facebook.  I'm not on Facebook much and so I don't appreciate it as others do, but it sure was nice to get all those greetings.  It really felt like my birthday!

I realize in recent years that material gifts, though very nice sometimes, don't really stick with you as the philisophical ones.  Maybe not that you remember the philosophical ones more, because sometimes you don't, but their meanings stay with you unlike the material ones.

Last month I was on my way home from an appointment, just about to cross a small bridge.  There is a stoplight about 500 feet from the bridge and a small park on the right of the road.  Traffic flows smoothly here, normally.  That day, however, cars were backed up before the stop light.  I couldn't see why,  at first.  As I looked around the cars in front of me, I saw the line of Canada geese.  They were traveling from the park, across the road, to the marsh behind the restaurant on the other side of the street.   One by one, they crossed.  Traffic was held up on both sides.   I sat there in my car as the light turned green, yellow, and red several times, giggling because here we humans are in our busy self-involved lives, and we all had to just stop and let the geese cross.  It didn't matter where we were all going, or when we had to be there.  We had to wait.  For the geese.  It was beautiful.   These creatures, oblivious to human wants and needs, simply wanted to get to the other side.  All 50 of them.  Sometimes it takes something like this to make us stop and just be.  I wondered how many of the people in the cars were doing this.  I have a feeling not many.  But this was a gift given to us, whether we knew it or not.

On my birthday, my daughter gave me a scarf that she crocheted herself.  My son gave me a tea pot that I had admired at a gift shop the month before, and my husband gave me a pasta maker.  We rarely eat pasta, and especially of late as both  my son and I have gone mostly gluten free.  I wanted to be gracious, but at the same time, I didn't want to keep this machine that I knew I wouldn't be using.  I also held back the comments in my mind as I saw what it was.  I know how difficult it is to buy gifts sometimes, especially for someone who is not so materialistic.  So, I looked at it as a gift--something thought about and bought with the intention of making me happy, if for a moment.  I suppose that is what birthday gifts are about.  Glad they come but once a year.

Yesterday, I came across a woman with a small bull-dog puppy.  One of my rules in life is to never pass a dog without attempting to pet it (assuming it's safe).  So, I asked to pet her and crouched down to touch the little being.  She was adorable beyond words.  Sleepy and sweet, with ripples of skin to grow into.  Her smushed up face was precious and she was too young to drool as her later self surely would.  I couldn't get enough of her.  It took all of my energy to get up and leave after the appropriate puppy petting time was up.  I just wanted to scoop her into my arms and kidnap her.  She was a drug of ecstasy that I wanted to squeeze and absorb into my cells.  And so her spirit stayed with me the rest of the day and still.  That was a gift.

In thinking about this blog, it occurred to me that I should keep a notebook titled "GIFTS" and write down things each day that felt like gifts, material or philosophical.  A great exercise to do when I'm in a rut.  It may help me look for gifts too, instead of overlooking them in my everyday self-involved rush.  Just like the picture of the Canada goose that I keep on the edge of my computer monitor but often look past.  There are usually gifts right in front of us if we just opened our eyes and minds to see them.

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