Human. Nature.

Wow! Traditionally, this is not something you would hear from a Chicago resident in the middle of March, but I am loving the weather!

Sunny. Clear. Seventies.  WA-hooooooooooo! Bring it on, Mamita Naturaleza!

Honestly, I can’t get enough of it. And, from the looks of all the people in the parks, at the beaches, and on the running trails and the bike paths, I am not the only one. The urge to get outside is impossible to resist when Spring rolls around. The good weather seems to bring out so many of our good qualities.

We feel more sunny, like our optimism is programmed to follow the thermostat. We choose to engage with the screen of life rather than the one on our television or computer. And best of all, we actually take a moment to soak up the beauty that is all around us. It’s like our ability to appreciate what’s been there all along goes into full bloom when Spring rolls around.

And, just between you and me, I have a sneaking suspicion that there is something more than the cabin fever of being cooped up for the winter driving that impulse. Because truth be told, nature brings us back to life all the time, not just in Spring. I’m not talking about the busy, happy lives we make. But Life. The energy that beats at the core of who we are.

The human-nature connection speaks straight to the heart of our human nature.  Don’t ask me how, but the beauty that surrounds somehow has a way of connecting us to the beauty that’s within.

The calm. The expansive. The appreciative. The genuine.

I’ve heard it said that the only zen you find on a mountain top is the zen you bring. And I guess that’s true, but still … The majestic beauty of a mountain top… Or a sunset… Or a moonrise… These things awaken something in us.  Something that, in my opinion, lies dormant for entirely too much of our lives.

It awakens our ability to thrive. Nature is always thriving. And it’s always teaching us how to do the same.

Take, for example, the trees and how they show us that the more willing we are to root ourselves into what is solid in life, the more likely we are to weather even the toughest storms.

And the leaves, that remind us not to fight the tide of life’s turning seasons because like it or not, things change. And if you let it, change can bring out a beauty that’s been hidden deep within.

Even that which follows those beautiful changing leaves – the dreaded dead of winter – holds incredible wisdom for us. The reminder that at times, we have to shut down and go deep within to gather what we need to grow into the next phase of life.

When you look at it like that, how can nature not put a smile on your face, right? Ralph Waldo Emerson said,  “Earth laughs in flowers.”  I agree. I say perhaps it’s time we all learn to let a blade of grass get us high without having to smoke it.

© 2012 The Book Of Duh, Merry Carole Powers and Sarah Feit Cornett

Sneaky ol’ Sunshine.

It was a day like any other day. Or so the sun thought.

For many moons, the sun had watched over the Planet Earth. And on this particular day, as he cut his way across the dawn, the faithful sun saw that, although animals still stretched, children still snuggled, and the smell of freshly brewed coffee, as always, still wafted skyward, things were no longer quite the same.

A cloud, it seemed, had settled over the Earth, and the world was looking a bit dim. More land was filled than fertile. More people were lonely than loved. And more nations were fighting than friendly. And worst of all, many people were actually starting to believe that this was a permanent condition. It was this last notion that truly baffled the sun. Preposterous, he thought! Had his unfailing presence taught the people nothing? How could they look at him day after day and not know that darkness is always, always, followed by light?

And, so, rising (as suns do) to the occasion, the clever sun hatched a dazzling plan. He reached down and kissed the heart of humanity, leaving behind a single freckle upon every spirit. This freckle was to be a symbol of the sun’s love and, more importantly, a reminder that hidden in even the tiniest imperfection there lies an invitation to shine. Imperfection, after all, is nothing more than just another way of saying “I’m Perfection.” And once people embrace that, thought the sun, all discouragement will surely melt away.

Oh, the joy it brought him to think how much brighter the planet would shine if only each adorable soul who walked upon it could embrace the simple truth of their perfection. Just imagine, mused the sun, if they stopped allowing a little flab to make them feel drab. Or if seeing a buttocks sagging could set their tails wagging. How happy life could be, thought the sun, if something as harmless as a wrinkle could make them laugh til they tinkle!

The thought of it made the sun so happy, that having humanity illuminating the beauty in life’s freckles instantly became his heart’s desire.

So remember, adorable people of the planet Earth: We, each one of us, have been hand picked by the Sun – personally appointed Ambassadors of Shine – to embrace I’m Perfection with a smile.  And in doing so, join forces with the sun, making the world as bright as it can possibly be.

©2012 The Book of Duh, Merry Carole Powers and Sarah Feit Cornett

SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

I saw the Academy Award winning movie The Artist this weekend. Wowzer. In this world of CGI, 3-D, surround sound madness, someone actually dared to make a silent movie. Might I say … bravo!

Not just because it was gutsy and completely creative. But, for me at least, because it was an excellent reminder of how expressive silence can be. That movie was able to say more with a single raised eyebrow than most movies do with two and a half hours of dialogue.

They proved without a doubt that a great smile can light up a screen more brightly than any Technicolor. That really great acting has the power make you feel like you are right there in the moment in a way 3-D never will.  And that computer generated critters and creatures will never create a world more magical than really loving someone.

This movie made it very clear that special effects are a poor replacement for good, old-fashioned specialness. And for my money, the same can be said off the big screen as well.

Special effects seem to have taken over on the stages of our lives as well. For example, how white our teeth are trumps how often we smile. And the way we look in our clothes has taken priority over the way we feel in our skin. Special effects are so dang good at sweeping us up into the razzle dazzle. And hey, I’m the first to admit a little razzle dazzle can be a blast. But in the end, even the most dazzling dodads fade. And when they do, we are left with the simple truths.

Like where you got your fancy education will never matter as much as what you were willing to learn during the times when life brought you to your knees. How big your bicep is will never matter as much as weather or not you’re strong enough to hold a friend. And the size of the rock on your finger can’t possibly shine any brighter than the love that made you pop the question or say yes in the first place.

This movie was such a great reminder of the beauty inherent in simplicity and silence. Seems to me that between cell phones and Facetime and texts and instant messages, life has turned into one big Talkie. The silent moments, like the silent films, seem to have become a thing of the past.

And you know what? I think we miss it. There’s a reason the words peace and quiet go hand in hand. And that deep down, we are all yearning for the great cosmic librarian in the sky to say “SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” and quiet down this blockbuster we call life.

I think somewhere deep down we know silent and simple are keys to contentment.

That thought brings to mind one of my most favorite pieces of writing. It’s called Desiderata. And it, like this movie, is such great reminder. And, might I add, a great way to start the week. Have a great one, everybody!

Desiderata:

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. 
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
 Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
 Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

©2002 The Book of Duh, Merry Carole Powers and Sarah Lorraine Feit