Unexpected Rainbows

The other morning, I went into the kitchen to fix some breakfast for me and my dog, and the entire room was full of rainbows. It didn’t last long, and no, I wasn’t hallucinating. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Diamond-like drops of water were hanging down from the awning outside my window, and the sun was out for a change, and at the perfect angle to cast its light through those drops, causing the rainbows. The mirror in the kitchen also happened to multiply them. I stood there for a moment, embraced by color, thinking how wonderful it is to be alive. What a wonderful life I’ve had and am still having!

Afterward, while poaching an egg, I wondered if my loved ones know I feel that way. You see, I do struggle with depression. I have done so my entire life. I suspect I’m better at hiding that from strangers than I am from the people who are closest to me. I can see how it would be easy to assume I lead a joyless existence.

That’s the beauty of having a blog. You get to put your thoughts and feelings out there for all to see. So, in the event I’m run over by a bus tomorrow, here, for the record, is how I feel about my life.

On the whole, I try to look at every day as a precious gift. I’ve been given ample opportunity to learn and to travel and to experience amazing things. I’ve loved a lot of people, and I’ve been loved in return. I’ve had quite a bit of good luck, having been born in a relatively free country with relatively good opportunities, at a time in this nation’s history when women have had relatively few restrictions, and I have cherished that independence.

If anything, I’ve eaten too well. I’ve mostly experienced decent shelter. I have taken advantage of the brain that I was born with. Even in my darkest hours (and there have been plenty of those), I have never forgotten that most people are far less fortunate than I have been, and I try not to forget that I’ve done very little to deserve this privilege.

There have been enough unexpected rainbows in my life to make me feel grateful. I am, right here and now, happy with how my life has turned out, and excited about what’s to come. Because of that, I fully intend to look both ways before stepping into any bus lanes. I hope you will do the same, dear reader.

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Me, standing in a rainbow, beneath an oculus in Split, Croatia, in 2006. What a life!

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We Will Survive

A longtime reader and friend made a very simple and yet extremely profound point the other day. She said, “We are all descended from survivors.” Wow. Yet another epiphany of the obvious!

Think about it. Every single direct branch of your family tree consists of someone who survived long enough to pass on his or her DNA to the next generation, on and on, until it came down to… you. Ta Da! You have a lot of hardy people to thank for your existence.

That fact should not be taken for granted. Despite your ancestors’ flaws and quirks and foibles, they still managed to carry on, to pass the torch to the next generation. That was no mean feat. Just imagine the infant mortality rate in the 1300’s, or the slim chance of avoiding plague and war and famine and pestilence throughout the ages. It takes a special person to outrun that literal or figurative lion on the open plain day after day.

We all come from a long line of survivors. I don’t know about you, but I find that comforting as hell. I’m going to try to remember that the next time I feel defeated or helpless or in despair.

It may not be pretty, it may not be easy, but come on, people. We got this.

family-tree

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You’re Alive!

A few days ago we lost a cultural icon and a great man by the name of Leonard Nimoy, and millions will mourn his passing. At times like this I’m reminded of something I learned the hardest possible way this year. Life is very precious.

I know several people who seem to exist in a constant state of fury and irritation. These people amaze me. I can’t relate to them on any level. I want to say to them, “You’re alive! Don’t you get it? You can do anything. You have choices. What the hell do you have to be angry about?”

I think these people walk through life with blinders on. They certainly don’t realize they are throwing away the most valuable gift in the universe: their very existence. I look at them and think, “What a waste.” There are plenty of people who are no longer with us, who appreciated every exquisite moment of the lives they had, who would gladly take even a day of someone’s unappreciated lifespan if only they could be alive again.

When you’re in a rage, your vision narrows to a tiny little point. You don’t see anything around you. You certainly don’t take the time to stop and smell the roses. You’re too busy pissing all over them. Why would you want to narrow your field of vision like that? There’s so much to see! Life is just so freakin’ beautiful, people. I wish everyone realized that.

So next time you are angry because someone has cut you off in traffic, try this instead: take a deep breath. Look around. Then drive home and tell the people that you love that you love them. Because that’s what matters. Nothing else does.

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Congratulations, You’re Alive!

Do you ever think about the miracle of your existence? It’s incredible, really. The odds of you… you actually being here to read this blog are greater than being struck by lightning.

Think of the one hundred generations that had to to procreate before you were even born. They had to survive plagues and wars and pestilence and catastrophe and childbirth. They had to be smart enough not to fatally injure themselves, and mentally healthy enough not to end it all. They had to meet just the right person to produce just the right child that would then meet just the right person… and so on. If even just one of those guys had spent just 5 extra minutes in the bushes or the outhouse or the bathroom on the day he was destined to meet his life partner, he may have met someone else and this current version of you wouldn’t exist.

And even before that, the planet had to develop in just the right way to sustain life. The primordial ooze had to be just oozy enough. The earth had to be the correct distance from the sun. It had to have water and develop plants and animals. Our ancestors had to be great swimmers, then great crawlers, then great climbers, then great runners. The dinosaurs had to be wiped out. The continents had to divide. The climate had to be just right in order for us to survive.

No wonder we have such high opinions of ourselves! What a miracle it is to be alive! What a precious gift!

Let’s try really hard not to screw it up for the generations to come, shall we?

Enjoying the sun

[Image credit: beyondthedream.co.uk]

Messages in Bottles

Last month a German fisherman pulled the world’s oldest known message in a bottle from the Baltic Sea. It was tossed into the water back in 1913, and contained a postcard that included the writer’s home address in Berlin. Due to water damage, the rest of the message is illegible, but work will soon be under way to restore it. Read more about this here.

What is it about messages in bottles that intrigue us so? I think it is partly due to the random nature of them. We are leaving it up to fate as to whether these messages will ever be received. It also has a lot to do with history. We enjoy receiving personal messages from a bygone era.

But more than anything, I think messages in bottles speak to our desire to leave a mark upon this world. We all want to say we were here, we existed. We led unique lives and loved people and our time on earth counted for something.

Time capsules do much the same thing, but are more likely to be discovered. I’ve left a few of those buried in the ground on the property of the home I used to own. It will be interesting to see if they are ever found.

Now I’m thinking of putting a message in a bottle. What should I say? I will have to give that some serious thought. If I do it, I’ll be sure and post it here, because in a way, this blog is my personal message in a bottle. I send greetings out to the world each day and I have no idea who will read them. I also have no idea how long they will float along in cyberspace and on what shores these blog entries will wash up.

Hello, dear reader. My name is Barbara and I really do exist.

message in a bottle

[Image credit: flickr.com]