I awoke to the first day of my seventieth year last Sunday. The morning was still quietly snoozing on pillows of clouds drifting downwind when I started my routine of photographing the neighborhood and the goings-on along the river. I stood on one of my favorite bridges crossing the Tomebamba and watched the water that escaped the cloud factory and was slipping away below me; I became aware that everything there is to be known about life was passing right under my feet.
What I considered a little joy was actually the largest.
I had become distracted and forgotten that the passing of time is not predictable in any sense of the word. Instead, it is a grand and surprising fairy tale through and through — and it will be repeated happily forever after.
Sometimes it is the simplest thing that saves us. I had grown weary of trekking the long road of recuperation from knee surgery and was neglecting the essential ingredient of gratitude. I was spending way too much time and energy going after what I wanted and turned away from anticipating the pure experience of joy hiding within every cloud and turn in the river, ready to surprise and delight us.
I decided that my birthday present would be the discovery of something fresh to warm my heart every day, be it breathing fresh mountain air, striving for better health, or having delicious food and hot coffee with steamed milk in a cafe on the plaza of San Sebastian.
I was quite young when I realized that only two earthly essentials are required to survive this life: a garden and a library. However, it is important to also include decorating our lives with the presents we are offered every day; among them are clouds that visit us to usher in a storm or simply to add texture to our lives, and rivers that wash away tears of pain and desire with equal nonchalance. I love them both as one because they are.
Today is a good day to be refreshed. It is a good day to embrace the longest days of winter.
Try not to overlook them, but if you do it does not matter. They will cycle through again with the waving of the sun — sometimes as quickly as melting snow, sometimes lingering long into the night. Have faith that you will see it all as time allows.
Be patient and enjoy the moment. That is all we really have.