It’s hard not to be overwhelmed with despair at all the crises looming large near and far, from racially motivated killings and random violence in the U.S. to the ongoing atrocities in Ukraine and triple digit temperatures in India. Not to mention the millions of lives lost to COVID and hundreds of thousands of others to drug overdose. So much human suffering and uncertainty about our future.
I have to pull away from the headlines, zoom way in to something tangible, a task I can manage and complete that doesn’t require much more than breathing (and maybe a paintbrush).
A few days ago, something that had been affixed to a wall inside a closet for a long time was removed. A dark, unpainted area was revealed, roughly two feet square at floor level. On my knees, in the quiet confines of that closet, I blue-taped the trim and painted, grateful for the task, the up and down rhythm of the brush strokes, and the fact that it took three coats to cover.
Yesterday, my husband offered to run the weed trimmer around the circular area in front where our Japanese maple is planted. Our home is out in the country, and we aren’t blessed with dainty little dandelion weeds that you can pinch and pull. Ours are the wild oat type—almost as tall as I am this time of year. And there were plenty of them in the area the mower can’t reach. To pull these up by their roots, you need to get a good grip around a bundle of them at the base and mercilessly yank until they give way. That tug-of-war with the earth was just what I needed. The sun was warm and the breeze gentle as I donned my hat and gloves.
For me, the gratitude is in being able to have these opportunities and in the satisfaction that tangible results provide. It’s good, too, to know that some muscle groups have been reawakened with the effort.
Tonight? Something involving a mixing bowl, a wooden spoon, and that old Wedgewood stove.