Tomorrow is my birthday. I will be 63. I really do not like this getting older, but what then are the alternatives? There is one really good thing about getting older, your perspective improves greatly.
When I was young, a teenager and early 20s, I felt the constant desire to be on the move. I constantly desired to be going somewhere, doing something, seeing things. For the most part that was a good thing. I followed through on those desires and saw a lot of the world as it was. I experienced many countries and many different people. But the problem with youth is an almost complete lack of perspective.
When I was young I thought the town I grew up in was hopelessly boring. It never occurred to me that even if that were true, and it was, that might actually be a good thing and something to be taken advantage of. Boston attracted me but I never got further than the very entertainment areas. That sort of visiting other places did not follow me as the years went on, fortunately. One of the foolish feelings of youth is a sort of immortality, death is far away and not to be concerned with. Because of that feeling I did not fear wandering into some of the more suspect areas of foreign cities without a worry in the world. Nothing ever happened to me, fortunately, and the experiences did offer me views of life as it exists on many different levels.
The years passed and my traveling slowed down. I slowed down too. Slowing down, it turns out, is an extremely good thing. People should do it more often! It gave me the opportunity to consider everything I had done, everywhere I had been, everyone I had ever encountered. No, I do not have a perfect memory for all my travels. But I do remember large portions of them. They allow me to smile.
A lot of places I have visited I would not want to live. Not because they were dirty or ugly, unfriendly or poor, but because my spirit would be too confined, too restricted, too limited. Beirut is an absolutely wonderful city with extremely friendly people but it is not a place I could live for very long. Part of the attraction to such a city is its being exotic but that is the very reason it would not be good for me. It exists outside my comfort zone.
What does all of this have to do with paradise? Quite simply, paradise is where you find it. I cannot say I am very enamoured with where I am living right now but I am not far removed from much beauty and pleasure either. I can get there quite easily by putting myself out just a little bit.
My cat is a bit of paradise too. She is perfect, graceful, soft, beautiful. She likes me just as I am and I her. Consider what a gift it is to have an animal that does not mind co-existing with humans. Most animals find us unbearable. We have trespassed into what was formerly entirely theirs but there is nothing they can do about it. There is a red-tailed hawk which nests on the side of a building very close to here. From my 14th floor vantage point I can see her soaring effortlessly on the currents of air. Such beauty is surely reserved for paradise, is it not?
Spring will be on us in a few days. The leaves coming into bloom has always been a wonderous sight. They emerge, as if by magic, for what looks to be dead sticks, first into flowers and then into leaves. How did nature figure out how to do such a thing?
We will soon enter into the season of thunderstorms. I have always called them nature’s light show. When I lived in El Paso, I liked to go up the side of the Franklin Mountains and watch the thunderstorms as they moved across the desert below. Even here in Cambridge, my window on the world allow me a great view of the magnificent bolts of lightning as the streak through the clouds to the earth below.
Only in paradise can you get entertainment daily and it costs nothing save the time you take to enjoy it. While walking in the rain recently with a friend I commented on how I love a rainy day. The rain, water of course, is one of the basics of life. How can you possibly dislike something that is responsible for your very being?
Some years ago I was calling a friend’s house and I would frequently get his answering machine. His message started “It’s another glorious day in paradise.” At first I found his message totally annoying. But that was only because I had not taken the time to consider the truthfulness of it. Now I have and I invite everyone to consider it as well. We do live in paradise. It is here for us to enjoy. But the only way to enjoy it is to recognize it. I submit that paradise is all around us. Do not look any further. It has found you and now you need to find it.