Thursday, January 25, 2007

Taking the time

There are some places in the world I’ve lived and I wouldn’t want to live there again. There are other places I’ve visited and I don’t know how people can live there. I now live in Georgia and every day I wake up I’m grateful. I can’t help but feel that way, with the view from my bedroom.

My former town in Maine is home to the state’s busiest intersection, designated by the Department of Transportation as a Level F (failed) because of the gridlock and danger. My office was in the middle of all that noise and congestion. If I kept the window open, I couldn’t hear the person on the other end of the phone. The trucks rumbling by shook the walls and no picture would hang straight. Drywall dust covered my desk in a fine silt. The noise and un-pretty sights wear you down, not to mention the sirens the almost daily fender benders caused.

A few years ago I traveled to Quito, Ecuador. The city was noisy, polluted, and suffered from unbelievable traffic. One day, as we were driving to another town, we passed a native Indian family. They had made their home on the median strip. A small fire was burning and the children were sitting cross legged, watching their mom sell mangoes to the vehicles caught in the gridlock. Their eyes caught mine as the car inched by, their eyes dully staring even as their fingers held a grimy teddy bear and a blanket.

I moved here, to a second floor apartment, and the windows opposite my bed face rolling hills covered with horse pastures. At dawn, the pink eastern sky mirrors the pink clay of the ground under the horses’ feet. Feeling frisky in the morning air, the horses cavort, nuzzling each other, running, raising on back legs, front legs wheeling in the air. The moon sets opposite, illuminating the light frost and making the grass sparkle brightly. I never hear a siren, instead, birdsong wafts through my window.

When I get up, that’s what see. Every day, I can’t help but stop and be stunned by the beauty. Standing in front of the window, I look out and I’m always humbled by the fact that I can live among such magnificence. I breathe in, taking a few moments to absorb the colors, the sounds, around me. It helps to stop for a minute, and take the time. Creating a peaceful interlude with gratitude at its center grounds me for the rest of the day. It’s a long way from the unlivable median strip in Quito to the rolling hills of Georgia. No matter how rushed I feel, I take the time to appreciate the beauty around me, because it’s not everywhere, and it’s the beautiful moments I want to remember at the end, and my reaction to them.


Jeanne said...

I love this!

Your friend in level F

Anonymous said...

Ahh the tradeoff. We put up with living in the city because it has the amenities but our comfort spot is never there.

Anonymous said...

I think Jeanne would be happier if she moved to Georgia. Gray Corner is the busiest and deadliest intersection in the State of Maine; and Jeanne hopes to make it 'Pedestrian Friendly'???

Elizabeth Prata said...

Well I would not care to speculate on the state of personal happiness for any given person. But I do know that she chose to live in town and likes it. And what's the problem with attempting to make your corner of the world safer and prettier?

Anonymous said...

Hey, Elizabeth, YOU yourself have stated how noisy, dusty, and traffic annoying your old Monument Office location was! How is a sidewalk, crosswalk, park bench, and a few lights going to stop the Traffic Frenzy and make that area prettier and safer??? Jeanne is your friend, but let's be realistic here. YOU are finally enjoying The Quiet Life, but even YOU couldn't find it in Gray, Me. That area of Town will NEVER be pedestrial friendly..that's a fact!

Elizabeth Prata said...

Of course I enjoyed living in Gray for the last 17 years, ten of them a nice, quiet life, while editor for the last four years just a mile and a half from the intersection. On an historic farm, with birds and deer grazing every night. I moved to Georgia because it’s warmer and my dollar goes farther. And my life is quiet because I’m retired. I did not move because my old office was noisy or dusty.

I don’t like to be defeatist and use the word “never.” People who use the word ‘never’ never get what they desire. I worked hard to bring attention to the downtown’s problems and I also used the paper to show it its highlights; Monument park, the historic houses, the opportunities that the property at Russell school and Pennell afford. “Caught at the Crossroads” and “Then and Now” were columns that did that. Now it’s other peoples’ turn and they are doing their part. We all do our part to try and make our spheres nicer.

Like, for example, some people did trying to keep Rt. 100 residential/commercial and fighting the Council’s “commercial” designation. It was said that effort would “never” work but that did not deter some people, did it? And some people enjoyed fellowship and community support, and I do not believe anyone called that group “crazed and evil money grubbing elitists seeking to protect their turf and colluding on their dastardly agenda.”

They persisted in their vision, staying respectful and persistent. And I admired them for it. I admire Jeanne for doing it and I admire the respectful and dynamic approach the Committee is taking. I believe in them and I know they will succeed.