Wednesday, July 30, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Franckly speaking: Live the moment — consider the birds in the air

By
From page A4 | January 23, 2012 |

Marion Franck. Democrat photo by Megan Jeremica

I thought the birds were my unique guilty pleasure.

Then, about a month ago, we had new friends over for dinner at our place in Lotus. I know they participate in more overtly spiritual activities than I do — at church and elsewhere — but I was surprised, nevertheless, when Marsha said, “I just sit there. Out of doors, listening to the wind and watching the birds. It lifts my spirits. I do it a lot.”

I have trouble sitting still like that because I feel I should be accomplishing something.

If I read in the middle of the day, for example, I feel naughty. Enlightening my own mind, if the book is serious, and entertaining my own mind, if the book is light, do not feel like legitimate uses of my time. I should be maintaining our home, helping other people, or working on my column.

But, like Marsha, I have a thing for the birds. I’ve hung four feeders in front of our cabin window and there I sit, watching the hummingbirds spar at each other, the goldfinches devour their expensive Nyjer seed and the bark-climbing nuthatches forage for dropped kernels.

When I glance at the clock, I realize I’ve been sitting for 20 minutes, accomplishing nothing, not even expanding my mind.

“Meditation,” some might call it. “Living in the present moment,” Marsha would say.

My counselor years ago used the same words as Marsha when she talked about how to reduce suffering. You get through emotional pain, she said, by making it smaller, by thinking of one moment at a time, not thinking about the ones that preceded it nor the ones that might follow.

You live in a series of short, distinct intervals, like boxcars on a slow-moving freight train, not in a rush of sensation, like on a bullet train. In trying to follow her suggestion, I realized I had already found one way to do that.

I kayak for many reasons, mostly passion for the sport, but occasionally I hit the river because the land hurts too much.

On a challenging river, you have no choice but to pay attention to the present moment, if you intend to survive. You use that moment to look for the next rock and the one after that, or the next lateral wave that might toss you or the one after that. Soon you’ve lived a whole day without worrying about whatever it was you worried about before you got in your boat.

Maybe watching the birds is the same thing, with less risk, because I can look away from the birds, start doing a task, leave them entirely, and I’ll still be OK and they’ll still be OK. However, if I leave, I also leave my moment of peace.

I went back to Marsha and asked if she really can take long periods of time to contemplate nature and not feeling guilty about it. She told me it sounds selfish but isn’t. When she returns to her day peaceful and centered, everyone she interacts with shares the benefit.

“Try it,” she said. “Go up to your cabin. Sit and do nothing, alone.”

I was worried about the “nothing” part so I brought my guitar with me when I walked down to the river to be alone.

It was sunny and the rain was so recent that everything was celery green. I played standing up, as the river thundered by at 5,000 cubic feet per second, happily covering wrong notes.

I started with the few songs I have memorized, and when I ran out, I simply strummed chords that please me. I’d think about which one to play next and then I would play it and then I would think about the one after that.

A merganser duck, a brownish female, emerged from behind some upstream brush and paddled to a rock about 10 yards from me in an eddy. She climbed onto the rock and sat down.

Ten minutes passed. I wondered where her mate was because every duck has a mate right now. In fact, as I travel the river in my kayak, I see a pair of geese or ducks on every beach and I anticipate a population explosion a few weeks from now.

After a while, a male merganser appeared, bright, white and robust-looking, with a shock of green on his head, and behind him, a second brownish female paddling demurely into the eddy. As I continued to strum chords, the two of them dipped their heads into the water. Then they hopped onto the same rock as my music-loving merganser and sat on the other end.

If the second female ruffled my merganser’s feathers, it was subtle — a slight turn of the head, a slight rearranging of the feet — and it was over quickly.

She stayed on the rock, living in the moment.

Marion Franck is a part-time resident of El Dorado County, with her primary residence in Davis. She writes a weekly column for the Davis Enterprise. Her column appears occasionally in the Mountain Democrat.

Comments

comments

.

News

District 2 candidate statements tell of goals

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1

 
Sand Fire nears containment: 66 structures destroyed

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Quarter-acre fire in Kelsey

By Rebecca Murphy | From Page: A3

Schedule for Highway 50 blasting closures

By News Release | From Page: A3

 
Tails wagging over dog park approval

By Julie Samrick | From Page: A3

.

Opinion

My Turn: Privatization of public services

By Mark Belden | From Page: A4

 
Policy book

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4

 
.

Letters

District 2 supervisorial special election

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 4 Comments

 
GDPUD management report

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Piano replaced

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

 
Comments sign-in policy

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Save the Guinea Worm

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Large bangs

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

Private property gets no respect

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

 
.

Sports

Ex-Bruin lends a helping hand

By Steven Shaff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

 
Sierra Sharks finish middle of the pack

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8

Roundup: July 29, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8

 
Taz pull through for SSL trophy

By Patty Pope | From Page: A8

.

Prospecting

Nuns discover a pleasant place

By Lexi Boeger | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Bargains can be found everywhere

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

At a glance: Game time

By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2

 
Barbecue dinner to benefit Blue Star Moms

By Mount Aukum Winery | From Page: B2

Stagecoach story takes riders on a trip

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: B3

 
Help needed to make cool ties

By Sew 4 | From Page: B3

Stroke and osteoporosis screenings planned

By Life Line Screening | From Page: B3

 
Master Food Preservers: Tomato time

By Monique Wilber | From Page: B4

 
Gold Rush Days activities cancelled this year

By Sacramento Convention And Visitors Center | From Page: B4

Build an author platform at the Library

By El Dorado | From Page: B5

 
Sacramento area museums offer summer fun

By Sacramento Association Of Museums | From Page: B5

.

Essentials

Weather stats 7-29-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

 
Building permits 6/2-6/2014

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2Comments are off for this post

Crime Log: July 17

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

 
.

Obituaries

Wallace Murrel Thomas

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
Merlyn Wilbur Adams

By Contributor | From Page: A2

.

Real Estate

.

Comics

.

Women’s Health

Love the skin you’re in

By Noel Stack | From Page: WH4

Dump stress and improve your health, productivity

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: WH7Comments are off for this post

Women’s Health Expo

By Marshall Medical | From Page: WH8

Find the confidence you need to fight back

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: WH12

Our choices directly affect our health

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: WH14

They’re NOT your mother’s hearing devices!

By Marshall Medical | From Page: WH17