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The Beauty Of An Unexpected Life

the beauty of ageing

It’s cool and overcast, a less than perfect morning, not at all to my liking. It’s early, the first day of May. But already, I’m anxious for the freedom of the long days of summer to venture out into the natural world, where I always seem to find my bearings.

It’s been a difficult few years. But life goes on, and hope lingers on the horizon.

I make a spicy chai and bring it back to bed, wrapping myself in my thread-worn shawl of pure, supple cotton made in Mexico long ago. It comforts me, envelopes me in its enduring purpose, undaunted by the many trips through the wash that only seem to have transformed it into an even more comfortable state. I sit for a moment, lost in that thought, and wonder if life wears me down little by little, in the same way, as I become softer and more comfortable in my own existence.

Settling into the mound of pillows, I lean back against the makeshift, wooden headboard, fashioned out of need from a wall hanging I admired when it hung off my friend’s wall. I think fondly of her and the memory of how she lifted it from its hooks that very moment and presented it to me.

I took it with a grateful heart, not knowing where I would hang it but loving its deep, rich colors and delicately carved flowers. That was before the wildfire burned her house to the ground and before I moved into the guestroom of my own home, alone, after those same fires left my marriage in ashes.

But I’m comfortable here, more than comfortable, content. Like the beautifully carved and painted wood behind me, I belong here.

The world outside my window is silent, breathless under the shroud of white stillness. Through the fog, only the call of a lone quail breaks the constant nothingness. He follows his mate, always on guard, stationed on the fence post above her, vigilant in his duty to protect. She pecks and scratches, seemingly oblivious to his dedication. That doesn’t matter to him. He carries on as she wanders. I am touched by his devotion to his mate.

A slight chill of loneliness rises up from deep within, and I pull the comforter around my shoulders.

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A small bouquet of roses rests on the window sill next to my bed. The delicate pink blossoms now seem even more fragile in the faint morning light. Their alluring scent pleases me as it wafts by on the morning breeze. I study their beauty, each at a different stage of its brief existence, representing for my consideration the potential that lies within. From the virgin bud, still awaiting the seductive touch of sunlight, to the wide-open fullness of the last one I picked, nearly leaving it behind, suspecting it was past its prime. In retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t, as it seems to be the most fragrant of them all. The thought makes me smile.

I am struck by the completeness of this fully bloomed stage of my life and feel privileged to live deeply in a time rich in experience and wisdom that beckons from the deep ravine the thoughts, memories, and mostly forgotten dreams that still hang from my stem, tenuous in their grasp, but determined to hold on while the sun still shines.

I’ll endure the chill of the morning air and wait patiently for the sun to break through, as it always does. I’ll savor the sweetness of my warm drink, settled into the cradle of pillows, and fully appreciate the moment, the day, and my unexpected life for all it offers, for now, free of the expectation of anything more.

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