A couple of days ago I went for a walk in the park. It was late afternoon and the weather was warm. Not warm in the sun but actually warm. I had my binos with me and my prayer beads in my hand. I was taking my time. I looked over to the hawk’s nest with my binos and could see one of the adults on the edge of the nest looking down into it. No visual confirmation of any young. I’ll keep checking. I looked for the hooded mergansers, the mourning doves, the red-winged blackbirds, and others. Nothing. Although I did hear the beautiful chirp of blackbirds in the distance.
Nearby I heard a wonderful song of a bird and I couldn’t place it. I scanned the trees in the direction of song and could make no sighting. I crept up closer, scan, crept closer, scan. Nothing yet. The solitary bird was making a lot of song. I suddenly became self aware and that I was at ease in the world around me. If I had been asked at any time prior chances are I would not have said that I was anxious or worried about possible threats. While I do scan my environment, I am aware that I do so and I let it go. It is as a troublesome thought in meditation… just let it go. But if you had asked me if I was anxious or anything at all about my environment I would have said no. The thought of danger lurking in the world around me doesn’t surface in my conscious, waking life.
Yet here I was, happily stalking a chirping bird, and I became aware of my peace in the world around me, of being at ease. I was overcome with an exhuberent contentment (if that makes any sense) and it felt as though it were the first time (it’s not, but it’s been a long time coming).
I sighted the bird. It was the common American Robin. I had not registered such a melodic song as this one sang from this species before.
Taking out my special prayer beads that I made, three groups of three with a darker colored bead seperating each group, all together repeated three times, giving me a total number of beads of 108. My mantra, as I moved along from bead to bead, was simply “thank you”. I gave out my gratitude to the gods and goddesses and spirits and ancestors and everything around me. I gave it to my Self. I walked along trails, watching and listening for birds, while clicking each bead in due time after a silently held thank you in my heart.
It is a few days later and I have gone to two days of the Western Psychological Conference with two more days to go. I have been as a kid in a candy store. So many people and ideas swirling around me. I have had a wonderful time. No matter what I’ve sat in on I’ve seen a parallel or connection to something I am reading up on. With each person I talk to I am jazzed all the more and ideas of further research, more questions to ask, concepts to test, come to my mind and I am giddy from thinking about it all. Rarely have I been so happy as when I took a break, walked outside into the sunshine and sat in the waterfront park, cup of black coffee in one hand, notes from a lecture in another, with ideas about possible research to formulate in my mind while texting a colleague about them.
Today I sat in on some paper presentations about emotional regulation and its effects on stress and happiness as well as predictors of stress and depression. Thinking of this and an earlier lecture on descriptive social norms and reciprocity theory, along with earlier lectures on communications between science practicioners and non-profits, I have questions to look at about theoretical connections. Find the lynchpin. Find the fulcrum. And in my mind I can imagine possible interventions of mutal benefit to veterans and their families (and by extension the communities they live in and the state). I allow myself to fantasize and imagine a future date where the statistics of sucicides in the state veterans population are released and there is a significant drop. I can almost taste that joy. It is like a warm blanket that I can wrap myself up in. What a wonderful dream. This convention has been wonderful for me because I’ve been able to connect to people in my field. I’ve talked with brain researchers and social psychologists, cogntive specialists and others and I’ve followed along with them, seen applications of their work in my own, and have seen in the horizons of my mind taking them further to bring health, resiliency, and happiness to the veterans population. I feel capable in that there is, somewhere within me, a path or a light or a way of finding this, that I can indeed make a difference in the suicide rates. For the first time I’ve felt like I can look at my brothers in arms in the eye and let them go to war without me, knowing not only that I have a task here on this side of the pond, but that I am up to the challenge and could possibly do it.
My one hope for the coming year… that I am able to actualize the things I am connecting in my mind, the theories, the research, bridging various entities, and that the lives of the veterans in this state are impacted for the better.
Gods guides me