Summer, as it does each year, dropped off a cliff, bypassing Autumn, and crashed unswervingly into Winter.
The date on my calendar doesn’t yet agree, but climate pays no heed to the small square, dated, boxes hanging underneath “December” with a cute picture of a furry otter that adorns my office wall.
Winter is a state of mind, not a date.
Not too long ago, I walked my neighborhood wearing shorts and a short-sleeve shirt. Today, not only am I in heavy jeans, turtleneck, and fleece vest, but my feet are warmed by “heat holder” wool socks, and there’s a space heater glowing orange by my toes. Winter has made itself recognized; I prefer the blues, greens, yellows, and warmth of Summer. Gray, ashen, pewter, and cold don’t do much to boost my disposition.
Realizing I’m now closer to 90 than I am to 40, I’m in a place in my life where I am attempting (not always successfully) to not let that which I cannot control, control me – especially my attitude. In my oh-so-much-younger days, I would go all cranky over the inclement chill of mid-December. Today, I’m as much into “acceptance” as I can be. Beyond giving up grousing, I actively look for the beauty that envelopes me, even if painted in a drab, drizzly, dark sullenness.
To that end, I’ve noticed how many perfect moments in which my life is wrapped; should I just be open to experience them. They’re omnipresent; in any instant, everywhere. I simply open my eyes and soak them in.
My dog, 20 pounds of curls and ears, is a wind-up toy of joy and love. Adorned in his holiday finery – a red, blue, white doggy sweater decorated with a pattern of snowflakes and trees – he bounds through our house, full-steam, back and forth down the hardwood hallway, nails clicking, stubby tail wagging, an oversized doggie-bone proudly transported in his jaws. All feet and ears as he slides along the floor, attempting to find traction, the excitement knows no restraint. Dog: uncontrollable joyfulness. Watching him, the love inside me explodes and I cannot help but laugh. The cold swathed around my bones dissolves. I ask for nothing more; this is perfect.
Although I now bundle up to take my morning walk and the nippy dampness pierces the puffy jacket dedicated to keeping me warm, one of the countless things I like about living here is that people smile and wave as we pass each other.
“Happy holidays!” shouts a chap about my age, wearing an obviously well-loved, slightly frayed, Santa cap. He waves with gloved hands from across the street.
“You too,” I call back. “Have a joyous season.”
I smile – as does he, and accents it with a pretend salute as he passes into my memories. I don’t know him; probably never will. It doesn’t matter; at that moment he improved my life, making a perfect instant better than I could wish for.