Today, 10/20/21, a Boston Globe essay by Anil Seth entitled “Reality is what you make of it”, included this: “how things seem is not necessarily how they are,” causing me to ruminate about my day yesterday and adjectives I might choose to describe it. Last week, my husband insisted that we take a day this week, scratch everything from our calendars, and take a ride to New Hampshire to appreciate the foliage. After grumbling about it a little, because every day I have some kind of a commitment that I enjoy, I consented to skip one of my Spiritual Exploration Zoom sessions for our day on the road.
The weather forecast was perfect and we’d decided to take my car, an electric Mini Cooper, which gave Paul his opportunity to grumble. He would have preferred to drive his gas-guzzling truck, more comfortable for him, less so for me as a climate activist, both physically and philosophically.
As always when traveling in an electric car, I first determined where we would recharge, at a place I had used before. The drive had been pleasant enough, but when we approached the recharging location, ongoing roadwork required detours, unmarked, forcing us to drive in apparent circles. Finally, we found our way and hooked up. Because Paul puts up such a fuss about the time needed for recharging, I was feeling defensive and frazzled. Paul, on the other hand, was totally gracious and accepting of the situation.
We walked around the Rockingham Mall and I took the opportunity to buy a car connection device for my new iPad, then were back on the road to the Hookset welcome center, where I love the grilled apple, fig and Brie sandwiches. While we were eating at this place that I love so much, I made a comment about it not being very elegant, but that I loved it anyway. We ended up having a conversation about our perspectives on styles and our tendencies to put down those that are less classy, while at the same time, wanting to be accepting of all people and all styles.
I reflected on my decision to attend Harvard, wanting so much to have that credential, while simultaneously, not feeling worthy. I remember finally making the decision to apply, looking at the diploma in my advisor’s office, imagining that some day, I would also have one. Now, it is actually on the wall of my home office and I still can’t quite believe that I earned it.
The conversation continued as we drove during this gorgeous day under a bright blue sky, brilliant scattered clouds, surrounded by beautifully colored leaves. I considered the word, ‘wonderful’ and wondered about its relationship to ‘wonder-filled.’ I’d never considered this word before, but I was experiencing a day filled with wonder, a ‘wonder-filled’ day. Paul’s urging to take this time was ideal and my decision to skip the class on Spiritual Exploration left me with a different and unexpected spiritual exploration. I was also experiencing my deep privilege, that I was able to simply choose to experience the wonder that filled this day.
Then, we took route 101 across New Hampshire, before heading home. Yes, in the words of Anil Seth, “Reality is what you make of it.” But, also, we have to work with raw materials, most of which we didn’t get to choose, like my multiple privileges.
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