It’s early spring in Florida. The trees are dropping their leaves. (This seems backwards when you’re from the North.). I skidded on fallen leaves at the stop sign this morning. Florida has many oddities; brutal hurricanes, lizards that fall from trees and a racist, homophobic governor who is stuck in the 1950s. The state is also loaded with old people.
Of course, I am one of those. Florida’s called God’s Waiting Room. (This assumes you are waiting around to die rather than living your life and enjoying the lovely weather.) I admit to liking the sunshine, while I hate the heat. I also like the availability of health care – Cleveland Clinic, Sloan-Kettering, Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins all have a presence here. There are many nature trails, a great dog beach, an excellent dog park.
The county where we live votes Democratic but the rest of the state Is Republican. I growl reading the morning papers. Of course, there is much to be concerned about and I don’t need to reiterate it to you. What I need to remark on are the many things I love about my life here. For the first time in my life, I have a loving, sober partner. I miss my friends and family up north but have several good friends here who matter to me. I also have an on-line community of recovering alcoholics whom I meet with each morning. Although I have never seen
these people in person, they are important to me as friends and guides to living a sober life.
I talk to the squirrels when I walk my dog. Their bright eyes and tiny faces are filled with curiosity. There’s a large white egret who walks through our yard some afternoons – slowly putting one foot down right in front of the other foot, he stalks lizards. Watching him is a meditation.
I am waiting for a synagogue to be completed on the next block. It is a handsome building – stucco with a clay tile roof. I look forward to having this spiritual presence
near-by. Despite being a Quaker who shuns display in my own worship, I respect and admire it in other faiths. We all reach toward the Spirit.
I take great comfort too in my relationships with supermarket staff, the dry cleaner, my dog groomers, my doctors and my vet. Small interactions set the tone of my day. They remind me of the goodness of people – something media ignores since it does not sell.
Each Friday I volunteer at the Palm Beach Bird and Parrot Rescue. I clean cages and meet all kinds of birds as well as the occasional hedgehog or chinchilla. Like many people, these creatures did not ask for the life they have been dealt. I have been bitten a few times – out of fear, not meanness – so have learned to be more careful. (A skill easily transferred to human relationships.) I see the joy when a person and a bird start a new relationship. This work is a spiritual practice for me.
I live a quiet life yet my days rocket by. There are always more poems to write, phone calls to make, books to read, people and creatures to love. I am grateful.