Be in the moment?

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I’m paddleboarding and become fascinated by the hundreds of jellyfish gliding around me. Rather than standing, I sit for a closer look and allow the board to go with the current. Each jelly makes me think of a pulsing mandala, hypnotic.

Recently, I read that the design of a mandala is visually appealing so as to absorb the mind in such a way for chattering thoughts to cease, allowing a more spiritual essence to envelope the observer, leading to higher awareness or a meditative state which allows us to be in the moment.

And I want to simply be in this moment.

And I also want to take a photograph, so begin to consider the way the sunlight is flashing on the water, the various angles and how this type of photo seldom comes out the way you want it to, unless you are that woman on FB who seems not to know a bad shot. Stop … Be in this moment … Why is it so hard to give myself permission to just be in this moment?

The paddleboard and jellies easily move as if tied to the tide … yuk, yuk, good one, Elizabeth … Up ahead, a splash and then a magnificent white heron somehow lifts its crooked, awkward body from the water and soars. I am transfixed by its silhouette, an ancient pterodactyl blocking out the sun. I feel blessed to be here to see it, until I notice the fish dangling from its mouth, attempting to twist free … and I like fish, especially on my dinner plate with a bit of basil and butter. And yes, this is nature’s way, but the new and improved peaceful part of me feels kind of sad for the fish.

The sun is like a friend with an arm around my shoulders and I close my eyes to appreciate … Shit! I forgot to take out chicken to thaw for dinner … This is a weekday. I should be at a job that I probably don’t like much … wish my toes were shorter … and instead I am in this back bay slip of mangrove and stillness … or my baby toes were longer ... Just me, the heron long gone, these jellies.

And as if conjured by my thoughts, a nurse shark swims by below me … Harmless, my ass! That’s what they all say. Who is ‘they’, anyway? … but right now … Or would it be ‘who are they’? … I’m in the moment, this one moment … Okay Jaws, where’d you go?

The water is now shallow and the jellyfish mandalas have flipped over and cover the bottom like snowflakes … seaflakes? … each unique … I hope it’s an easy winter up north … I want to touch one … I sure don’t miss scraping windshields.

A horseshoe crab steps out from under some mangrove roots … or maybe two crabs, never quite sure … I’ve drifted near. The way the roots grow right out of the water makes me think of walking trees … makes me think of the weeping willow tree I climbed as a little girl back at the old house … and the tangle of shade and cover they create is home to the wiley snook … I recently read that remains of horseshoe crabs have been found more than 400 million years old and they say the crab hasn’t changed much in all that time. Sort of like living fossils … Be in the moment … don’t fix it if it ain’t broke … In the moment. I am safe in this moment.

The salt makes my bug bites burn, but it tastes good when I lick my lips … wish I’d brought a beer … The paddleboard makes not a sound as we spy a mangrove canopy up ahead … did I at least bring lip balm … The way the branches twine make a perfect tunnel to travel through into a new moment, while allowing me to stay in this moment … should have brought the SPF 30 … in this moment … my back is killing me … I love the way the sun tips each ripple … where’d that shark go … No one knows where I am … wonder if could take a selfie without dumping the camera into the bay … How blessed to be right here, right now. 

Out of the stillness, I hear a distant engine. Car or boat, I cannot tell. It startles me back from wherever I was … Where am I? … Here, breathing.

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Where the heck is Idaho?

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I’m walking with the dog, enjoying a Terry Gross interview with Sarah Silverman through my ear buds. The dog stops to investigate a coconut, possibly a beach ball in disguise. This is her walk too, so we dawdle. A truck wheels by with Idaho license plates. Idaho plates, a rare find, I tell the dog. She deems the coconut a ‘not-ball’ and is ready to move on.

Yet, I’m lost in Idaho, unable to place it on a map. I know it is out west someplace, but from the east coast, most states are out-west. It probably lives close to all those M states. Montana and … And yes, I used to know. Once, I knew where every state was situated. My bedroom walls were covered in maps with numerous red push pins for all the places I would someday visit.

Back then, I’d sleep and dream about driving to Bug Tussle, OK, Yum Yum, TN or Fluffy Landing, FL. I wanted to climb Kilimanjaro, wanted to swim in Lake Titicaca (just saying it was like an adventure), wanted to dig that hole all the way to China.

Today, I will return home, go to Wiki and type ‘Idaho’ in the search box, quickly point it out on an online map. When I was a kid, I read encyclopedias like one long book. It took time and patience back then to find what you were looking for. And to keep things interesting, in our house we had several aging, incomplete sets. Once a month, it was my chore to dust them.

In 5th grade, we had to memorize all the state capitols for Social Studies class. My friend, Pat and I made flash cards, same as we did in 4th grade so we’d never forget our multiplication and division tables. That was the year the entire class flunked Arithmetic. I’d never received an ‘F’ before and was inconsolable. Now, I’m still able to roll through the tables without pause, though I can no longer tell you the capitol of Idaho.

When we were little, Joey and I used to play the license plate game on those long, sticky drives south to watch our older brothers graduate from military boot camp. Idaho was a rare find and I think Joey lied about Hawaii. There was no air conditioning back then and the car always smelt like an ashtray and sounded like one long scratchy baseball game on the AM radio.

Now, all I can think about is that ridiculous TV commercial with the missing truck shaped like a potato. And then it comes to me like 9 x 7 = 63. Boise…did I spell it right?