Death Valley, California. Inhospitable. Barren. Hot. Dry. Monochrome.
Maybe at first sight, but soon you realize there is beauty there, tucked into crevices, in patches of green where the underground river nears the surface, in the subtle shading of rocks crumbling into sand, under an impossibly blue sky, in the brilliance of a wildflower, in the paintbox of oxidizing mica in the rocks of Artist’s Drive.
Grateful for the opportunity to fine tune my eyes to see beauty in a place where beauty, on the surface, appears scarce. Oh, but it’s there. And when your eyes adjust enough to notice, you discover it’s everywhere around you.
Grateful for the view from the window near my desk. Every time I swing in to work, I marvel at the sky and the quality of light as it illuminates the shore, especially that red building that simply pops and glows. It’s such a great way to start the day.
Our local McDonald’s is engulfed in renovation; there are trucks and porta potties, workers in neon, scaffolding soaring high toward the roof, plastic and, yes, a sign that says, “Drive Through Open.” So we drove through, dodging workers and barricades. No menu in the drivethrough, just a lonely speaker attached to a cord that wound its way back inside the building. The window? Still there, but an employee dodging flakes of drywall as workers sanded above ferried our money to the window. The drink delivery? The same, except an employee carefully covered and brought our order from the window to our car. I’m struck by the dedication of these employees and this location to serving its clientele. Grateful for the small town where we will move in a month or two. I like their attitude.
So I head into work this morning. The sky’s a beautiful blue with white puffy clouds, the air crisp with the coolness of a September morning. In the elevator are co-workers from various offices; I know none of them well. The prevailing conversation? How crappy it is to start another gloomy week at work. I wonder briefly if it’s because the elevator has no window to the beautiful day outside, but realize it’s due to the attitude each of us walks in with and carries throughout the day. I know that I can carry that blue sky attitude all day long or allow the gloomy windowless elevator attitude to prevail. Grateful — I am so grateful — for this knowledge of choice, because it allows me to make of my day a heaven, not a hell.
Grateful for the beauty of a butterfly whose wings tell the tale of a life well lived. The fact that it’s a little worn, thinner in places, and perhaps even ragged makes it more poignantly beautiful than any perfect specimen.
Ah, you can feel it in the air. It’s a subtle difference in temperatures, a slight change in the quality of light, a gathering of intention from the denizens of sky and tree and ground. There’s a skiff of newfound maturity and wisdom in the air. Savor it. It’s the gift of the seasons, to remind us that life is a cycle — hibernation to anticipation to ripening to harvest. The more I consider it, however, the more i think it’s really a spiral — like a nautilus shell — and each circuit pushes, prods, and makes us grow. I’m grateful to see Autumn beckoning.
Isn’t it interesting how so many treasures look like, well, rocks. Plain things. Nondescript products of Mother Earth that we kick with our toes as we wander down an alley or skim across a pond with a practiced toss. You hold in your hand something special that, when polished or cracked open, reveals amazing treasures, like these crystals. I’m reminded of how each of us is a geode, of sorts. Inside, when we dare to crack open and reveal ourselves, we find amazing and valuable treasures not even hinted at by our rough exteriors. I’m grateful when I crack my hard shell, and grateful when others crack their shells to reveal the real person inside.
From the left is a citrine crystal point (hexagonal), a clear quartz crystal with occlusions (hexagonal), and a candle quartz crystal (hexagonal), so named because it’s reminiscent of the melted wax along the sides of a candle.