Do you know what the bird of paradise flower is believed to symbolize? Among its meanings are a "good perspective," freedom, and faithfulness. Back in the day, in Victorian times, most people could tell you such things - the meanings of different flowers - at the drop of a hat. What a world that must have been - when one would just unconsciously soak up these romantic facts about flowers without even being aware of it. What a world that must have been - when even small children could easily identify most trees and flowers and birds, again with little awareness of having learned the names.
I love being near the ocean. This is my first time in Sanibel, which is famous for the shells on the beaches. I have seen a few, and have just let them be. What I am appreciating about Sanibel is its true beachiness (is that even a word?). The beaches are not clean-swept each morning, as beaches in some other places are - on your morning walk here, you are apt to find abandoned crab-legs or broken sand-dollars or stranded jelly-fish, mixed in with what seems like millions of different kinds of seaweed. Flotsam and jetsam - it is what is naturally deposited by the sea world each day.
I have seen lots and lots of birds here - huge brown pelicans with wing-spans of six or seven feet, dive-bombing for their lunch; dainty and dignified snowy egrets, delicately walking along the sand in their golden slippers; ospreys on their nests high in the trees. And I have seen other critters - most notably, lots and lots of geckos - who do not, by the way, sell insurance or speak with a British (or is it Australian?) accent as suggested on TV!
Speaking of TV and other "electronica" - I am obviously a little plugged in down here, as I am writing this blog, but I am minimizing my connections this week as much as possible - hard habits to break, I admit. I have my phone with me only when I want to take photos or when I am in the car, and am trying to refrain from checking email. It is really hard to completely unplug, however - driving in the car, I find myself automatically searching for NPR on the radio without even thinking consciously about it, and thus end up absorbing lots of news about the world beyond here. What I am absorbing is not names of flowers or birds - it is stories about the GOP bashing of EPA. Protests and hunger strikes in India, where citizens are fighting rampant corruption among those in power. Investigations of S & P's role in the mortgage fiasco of 2008 and the years leading up to it - side-by-side with analyses of what our drop in credit rating really means. Heavy sigh.
Alternative medicine guru Andrew Weil, MD, has advised taking periodic news fasts - he maintains that our 24/7 exposure to what we call "news" is one big source of negative stress - which, over time, can cause pretty significant health problems.
So, I am going to try the news fast for my remaining days of vacation, and I am going to really try to be present to the true "news" all around me... the three scavenging sea gulls fighting over one fish, the two German kids playing with the gecko on the deck, the older couple kissing and canoodling out in the surf, the gorgeous tropical flowers that look like other-worldly creatures poised to take flight, the talents of the chef at Traders Restaurant - have you ever had "white gazpacho"? Stay tuned for the recipe - out of this world. And I am going to stay tuned in to my feelings of being part of a loving world - though I am down here on my own, I know that Steve and Michael and Julie and Leah and Paolo and all of my family and heart-friends are out in that big world beyond, making things better in their own corner of the world. A "good perspective," I think.
And what is the important "news" in your world?