Once in a while an intuitive news flash speaks itself in my mind: “Everything is all right. Repeat, everything. There’s no need to stay tuned for further developments. This is the way it always has been, and this is the way it always will be. Now. Then. Here. Everywhere.”
One of those moments happened today when Laurel, Serena, and I sat down on the banks of the Metolius, as close to the head of the spring-fed river as it is possible to walk on the side of the river we were on. I leaned back against the bark of a large Ponderosa pine and was amazed to hear…nothing. Nothing that wasn’t part of Nature, I mean. No planes, trains, or automobiles. No doors slamming, people talking, dogs barking. Just a whisper of rippling water and the wind blowing through the trees.
Apart from a few fence posts, and Serena splashing in the shallows, when I looked up toward a snowy Black Butte I was experiencing the Metolius as it was hundreds of years in the past, and as I dearly hope it will be hundreds of years in the future. Perfect. Exactly as it should be. And we, Laurel, Serena, and me, were included in this perfection.
I’ve been experimenting with a wonderfully affirmative mantra to carry around in my head, a substitution for all the useless, anxious, negative, cogitations I don’t really need: Aye. (It could also be “eye” or “I,” which adds to its appeal, but this is a subject for another posting).
Aye. Yes. OK. For a few minutes, sitting there motionless—mentally and physically—I would have been willing to testify with complete conviction before the Philosophical Court of Inquiry that those who have affirmed throughout the ages that “everything is always all right” are absolutely correct.
The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius comes to mind as an eloquent proponent of this Stoic perspective. There is, Aurelius says, a divine providence that keeps the affairs of the cosmos in impeccable order. Even when things seem messy to us. We just can’t see the big picture, the immeasurable canvas of time and space where what look like incongruent splatters close-up are seen, with a broader view, to be part of a perfect design.
Musing on these matters, not long ago I was on my evening walk with Serena. We passed through the riverside campground where, in my April 17 posting, I mentioned seeing a single hardy camper. Well, by today the hardy camper(s) had departed, leaving behind an unsightly mess of candy wrappers, plastic bag remnants, soft drink containers, and what not. It took me more than ten minutes to walk around and pick up all of their litter.
At first, the inner voice in my head that loves to jabber on about this, that, and everything didn’t want to stop commenting on the campers as I bent down and retrieved their leavings: “What jerks would come to a pristine campground and leave it looking like this?...selfish, selfish, selfish…I’d like to find their address and mail all this crap back to them…hope they had a horrible time.”
Then, thankfully, Aye took over the speaking in my mind. Aye, Aye, Aye. I came close to a Marcus Aurelian attitude: “This happened. There really is litter here. I am picking it up. This is all that is objectively true. Litter. Picking up. Nothing more.” I enjoyed myself. I stopped being angry with the campers. I accepted reality—both the litter that had been left and my desire to pick it up.
I truly believe it: Everything is all right. Really. As hard as it is to believe.