I'm thinking about contentment today, as, finally, rain falls gently in Sacramento, washing the leaves of the Sycamores up and down my street, cleaning the air of the dust motes and grime that have dulled the sky for two months.
I woke up this morning and one of my first thoughts was, "I need a new camera. My eight year old Canon Rebel just doesn't make it anymore. Photos not sharp enough. Something off with the colors. And the composition, the originality, just not there. A new, hot camera would fix all that. Oh, and when I get a new camera, I'll need one of those big, long telephoto lenses like my friend has, a foot-long lens that can take a sharp photo of the iris of the eye of an eagle perched on a dead tree a mile away. I need. . .and I need, and I need."
Then I remembered the intention I set yesterday, to seek equilibrium, to sew myself a cloak of contentment with all that I have and what is around me. As the rain softened the hard soil outside, I looked through my photographs and forgot about technique or expensive equipment. I relived memories from the times these photographs were taken. I could feel the warm air, hear the whirr of birds' wings or the roar of a crowd, taste dust, touch the smoothness of a peony petal. I knew then that the purpose of my photographs is to feed my memory. That is all I need.
I am content.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
White Peony Sacramento, California Summer 2007
My wish for you is that you know contentment with the gifts you have. May you use those gifts to tell us what astonishes you.