essays

Simple Things

Last evening I decided to brave it. Just go outside and sit on the front porch, mosquitoes and all. It was front porchdusk and the fireflies had started to come out in force. It was warm, but not as hot as it has been lately. A balmy 86 or something like that.

So I poured some wine, got my MP3 player, and slathered myself with mosquito repellent. I always wonder about that stuff. I mean, if it's meant to ward off one of planet Earth's most hated creatures, then how can it be safe to wear on your skin? I've tried the bracelets though, and they don't do anything; mosquitoes tend to go for my feet and ankles for some odd reason. One year I wore a bracelet on each wrist and each ankle. Still didn't work.

I lit the citronella candles and the mosquito lantern, and relaxed while the cat sat on the top step and joined me in the great sport of watching the world go by.

We saw a fox cross the street and run down the sidewalk. We saw a jerk drive across his neighbor's lawn so that he could park in front of his own house rather than in his driveway. We saw people on bicycles, people walking dogs, kids walking to the nearby Walgreen's and coming back with toilet paper. Just neighborhood life.

I listened to Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, and some of Donovan's jazz-inspired psychedelia like Bert's Blues. I wished I was a painter so that I could accurately portray our street, with its old cottages nestled in the trees, their gentle front porch lights, and their windows front porchgold behind old-fashioned pull-down shades. Everything was amber and black, dotted with the lights from hundreds of fireflies. I watched one flying around in the top of the huge tree across the street. I didn't know they flew that high; they're usually nearer to the ground. I watched a star slide slowly down until it went behind a roof. I thought about things. I felt things. I watched the movie in my head and didn't try to direct it. I just watched. When I came indoors, I felt a nice little peace of mind and I went to bed early and slept soundly.

Enjoying ones life is about gratitude. Gratitude for what one has, not what one doesn't have, and wants. Peace of mind grows from enjoying the small things first, and I believe that when we can do that, we attract the larger things. It's a philosophy I've been working hard to achieve over the years; last night I finally figured out that there's no work to it. All it takes is surrendering to life, to the fireflies, the stars, and the world going by.

Steph Waller is an author and composer. Her Rock novel, With a Bullet, which takes places in lat 70s London, is set to be published in Spring 2010. Read more at Incurable Insomniac and StephWaller.com.

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