This winter in New York City has been long, cold, and truly has challenged my ability to "enjoy each moment." Especially moments where your face feels so cold that it might fall off; or during moments where you spend hours clearing the snow around your car, get stuck in the ice, and then spend more hours trying to find a parking spot later that night. Yes. I'm talking real refinement here. These experiences, day after day, really do challenge one to remain patient, calm, and joyful.
"Oh, Bianca." (That's me talking to myself) "It's really not that serious. At least you HAVE a car."
Yes; and herein lies my constant inward battle of keeping perspective.
(A photo I took while trying to walk to work in January)
I was speaking with a friend the other day who is from Jamaica. We were drawing parallels to the weather and life (oh, there are so many!). She mentioned to me that in Jamaica, you never hear anyone say, "It's a nice day." She had never heard people say that until she moved to New York.
When she got here, if the weather was between about 55 and 85 degrees, she would hear people comment on what a "nice day" it was. She initially thought it was a bit odd. That was, at least, until she experienced her first winter here. After many many days of cold, bone chilling weather, her perspective completely changed.
Then my friend made this observation, "Isn't it interesting how those dark and cold days really do deepen our understanding, perspective and appreciation for the 'nice days'?" In Jamaica, nearly every day the weather is pretty comfortable (or at least in comparison to a New York City winter). Therefore, it would make sense that people who live there need not comment on it being a 'nice day' because nearly every day would be considered a 'nice day.'
So, my friend and I came to the conclusion that although we are both eager for this winter to be over, we also feel it necessary to acknowledge that this winter has deepened our perspective and understanding. Now, we can truly appreciate 'nice days' in ways that we wouldn't be able to otherwise.
It's all about perspective.
An ageing master grew tired of his apprentice’s complaints. One morning, he sent him to get some salt. When the apprentice returned, the master told him to mix a handful of salt in a glass of water and then drink it.
“How does it taste?” the master asked.
“Bitter,” said the apprentice.
The master chuckled and then asked the young man to take the same handful of salt and put it in the lake. The two walked in silence to the nearby lake and once the apprentice swirled his handful of salt in the water, the old man said, “Now drink from the lake.”
As the water dripped down the young man’s chin, the master asked, “How does it taste?”
“Fresh,” remarked the apprentice.
“Do you taste the salt?” asked the master.
“No,” said the young man. At this the master sat beside this serious young man, and explained softly,
“The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains exactly the same. However, the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things. Stop being a glass. Become a lake.”
~ Meditation Masters
How truly profound. I've been thinking about how important it is for me to see things in that bigger "lake-like" perspective. When I narrow in on all the things that aren't going my way (cold weather, slipping on ice, not being able to find a parking spot, etc.), my cup of water gets smaller and smaller...or in other words, my perspective gets smaller.
However, I've also been learning that it is so important to still know what the salt and bitter tastes like. That deepens my appreciation and understanding for the sweet.
It seems contradicting. That's what I'm coming to find out about so many things! For me, it's been finding that balance between these oppositions. I'm learning how to let myself feel the bitter, honor it, acknowledge it, not feel "bad" about it, but just experience it, breathe through it, and maybe even cry about it. Then, the challenge is to not get stuck there. The challenge is to take that salt, taste it, and then put it in the lake and allow it to give you new and deeper perspective...allow it to help you see and appreciate 'nice days.'
Now I can truly say, "Today is a nice day," because I know from experience. :)
I'm going to go enjoy it now. I hope you are too!
With all my heart,