Always Returning: Prairie Wisdom for Breathing in a Good Day Every Day
So what if the day you are having doesn’t seem like A Good Day? No day can be Good all the time!
I’ve learned much Prairie Wisdom from my friend Daisy Hickman, author of Always Returning: The Wisdom of Place. I have her book on my table TBR (to be read) soon! I hope you’ll check it out by clicking on the link.
I asked Daisy to reflect on what she’s learned about A Good Day from her spiritual journey into place as an author.
I offer Daisy’s essay below as a Pre-Thanksgiving Meditation sent to you from a place special to me — Montclair, NJ — where our whole family has gathered to celebrate and be grateful together.
Just breathing, as the snow falls outside the window, brings me joy. Each out-breath sends joy to you!
Not Quite There Yet
By Daisy A. Hickman
Indeed, it is the perfect time of year to consider gratitude, a good day, and their convergence.
In fact, according to many spiritual teachers, we should feel grateful for each breath without trying to decide if it is a “happy moment” or an “unhappy moment.” The ability to do this must be the mark of true spiritual enlightenment, because I’m not quite there yet.
But I sense movement in that direction, and for that, I’m deeply grateful.
There is a time for evaluation; there is a time for simply breathing in the moment. As I wrote in my book about wisdom: less is more. And certainly less evaluation (judgment, analysis, reaction) is “more” in this context.
In terms of what comprises a “good day” for me—while I wrote this book, the first edition (William Morrow) in 1998; the second edition, just this year—
I believe that every day, on a spiritual level, is a good day.
Not necessarily in largely personal terms, because when I encounter extremely difficult days, I, like you, am reluctant to call them “good.”
But whenever I’m writing, I feel blissfully connected to something that feels timeless, complete, and knowing. Something beyond designations of “good”:
The sights in front of me are in continual flux, but the secret is to look into them to unearth their deeper truths.
–(Always Returning: The Wisdom of Place, 2014).
I grew up in a place (remote prairie lands) that inspired me deeply, and with time’s passage, I realized every place can prompt us to look within – and if we are lucky and intentional, we are always returning to that place.
That is where wisdom resides, not somewhere far-removed from our own realities. But, often, we fail to feel the roots below our feet, because we are so certain what we “need” is somewhere else.
I seriously doubt it.
The lessons of life are more simple than we choose to believe, but we have to stand still long enough, breathe deeply enough, to understand this.
Good is now. Good is everywhere, tucked within each sunrise, each sunset. Every smile, every sigh. Good is even part of tragedy and loss and missing people no longer with us on days we label as “special.” Days like Thanksgiving.
When we finally discover the true depth of each day, however, they are ALL special. No need to differentiate, no need to evaluate and consider and decide. And definitely no need to “wish” for something else.
As I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope, For hope would be hope for the wrong thing. ~ T. S. Eliot
And although I’m not quite there yet, still growing, like all of us, a certain amount of equanimity graces each moment of my day when I’m able to look beyond rules, expectations, popularized values and beliefs, matters of the ego, and anything else that clouds my inner vision.
Thank you so much, Shirley, for inviting me to share a few words here. May we all come to sense the profound “goodness” of each breath, each day –the challenge of a lifetime.
You can find Daisy at her delightful, highly recommended, website Sunny Room Studio. You can thank her for sharing these thoughts about the good day by leaving a comment below. In what way are you “not quite there yet” in your understandings of any of the following: the meaning of a good day, the wisdom of place, or what it means to be grateful as a daily practice of Thanksgiving?
Thank you, Shirley, for posing the question: what is a good day. Looking deeply into the question, there is an opportunity for reflection, and hence, new insights! I hope a few ideas resonate with your readers. A pleasure to be here. Wishing you a good day! ~ Daisy
Daisy, your essay fits this season perfectly. Perhaps one lesson to learn, in the holiday season especially, is that we can’t will good things to happen to us or to others. We can make ourselves available to the good, and we can invite the good through practices that help us remember and be grateful for all the good that surrounds us. And when that which is bad happens, we can also recognize that it doesn’t have to be the end of the story. Happy Thanksgiving!
Sitting at the kitchen table looking out the window in the morning, observing the snowy landscape and watching the birds at the feeder gives me a sense of peace and contentment. Later, in the evening, there is a brilliant sunset I can see from that same place. These quiet moments, morning and evening, help me to set my course for the day and strengthen me for what lies ahead. Daisy says it so well! Thanks for introducing her!
You clearly love your place, Elfrieda, and you have gathered wisdom from it. I knew you would resonate with Daisy and am glad you confirmed the connection. Hope there’s a lovely sunset tonight. And although Canadians celebrate on a different day, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow. Like Daisy says, we should be grateful every day. I know you are!
Dear Daisy, I am sitting at my desk watching the snow coat the trees and taking in everything you’ve said in your lovely essay. My favorite line is:” The lessons of life are more simple than we choose to believe, but we have to stand still long enough, breathe deeply enough, to understand this.” Such a powerful message in the midst of all the noise and turmoil of daily life. Your book sounds wonderful. I will check it out. Thank you for featuring Daisy, Shirley and for your series on what makes a good day. Thanksgiving Blessings to both of you and your families.
Thanks, Kathy. I’ll let Daisy respond to your comment to her, but let me add my thanks to you for taking time to breathe in this essay.
It’s been a wonderful year for you following the publication of Ever Faithful to His Lead. You have learned the lesson of breathing in gratitude even before you can see the new big picture.
Grateful for YOU, Kathy.
Shirley, I always learn something new or meet someone new when I click onto your blog. Today’s post fits both criteria.
Daisy, I have enjoyed exploring your website Sunny Room Studio and the photographs that project a strong sense of place. The setting reminds me of Dakota, a spiritual geography by another prairie author, Kathleen Norris. Congratulations on publishing your 15th Anniversary edition of Always Returning, obviously an enduring book.
In what way am I “Not Quite There Yet?” Fully accepting the circumstances of what I think is a not-so-good-day. How am I coping? Practicing gratitude. For example, when a tenant left before the end of a lease agreement, my husband and I prayed a prayer of thanksgiving that something good will come of this. We did so by faith (albeit reluctantly and even though it seemed fake) because it’s the right thing to do.
Thank you both for the enlightenment today. Happy Thanks-Living to all!
Marian, you have wonderful examples to offer. And now you’ve made me curious to know the end of the story of how your prayer of gratitude in advance of your tenant’s leaving. You’re probably curious, too.
I hope you add Daisy, her blog, and her book to your growing list of online Kindred Spirits. Daisy has a talent for connecting us to each other.
Happy Thanksgiving every day!
Shirley — Not only did I completely, totally, and thoroughly enjoy reading Daisy’s essay for breathing in a good day every day, I was over the moon for her book, ALWAYS RETURNING: THE WISDOM OF PLACE. Here is a link to my review (no spoilers, I promise): https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23489515-always-returning.
I had to hop on that review right away, Laurie, and “like” it. I’m really looking forward to reading the book myself after seeing what you said. Isn’t the cover beautiful? I’ll be delighted it BLUSH ends up as “evergreen” as Daisy’s prairie wisdom, and I celebrate her continuing generosity of spirit with all her readers.
Happy Thanksgiving every day!
Hi Daisy, I once heard an answering machine greeting “make it a good day,” but I prefer your version “every day is a good day.” Thank you for sharing, and to Shirley for hosting you. A blessed Thanksgiving to you both!
Same to you, April. Glad you found Daisy’s voice through this post. You two will really resonate with each other. SACRED PAUSES has much “prairie wisdom” in it.
Thankful for YOU.
Thank you for sharing your good day, Daisy. This really touched me because I am sometimes very intent on making a day good, or on waiting for what I “know” will be a good day. I like your perspective of seeing what we do as part of something timeless, much bigger than us. If we think of our days in that context, then how can we look at each individual day and label it “good” or “bad”? As you say, every day is good. Every day is part of something much larger than we can imagine.
This is beautifully said, Tina, and fits well with your thoughts in the last post. Thanks for coming back to share and for pulling the lens back so that we can see the “bad” days or bad parts of days from the widest angle.
No matter what happens, we can be thankful for the gift of life itself. A very powerful idea.
Thanks as always for your good thoughts.
Thank you, Daisy, for this beautiful ode to gratitude. Thank you, Shirley, for sharing this. I’m reminded of a powerful TED talk by Br. David Stendl-Rast. Perhaps you know it. “Want to Be Happy? Be Grateful.” http://www.ted.com/talks/david_steindl_rast_want_to_be_happy_be_grateful
And on we go, practicing…
So well said, Elaine. I was privileged to be taught by Brother David in person while I was at the Fetzer Institute. His voice and face are powerful in and of themselves, and his full presence melts anxiety.
I love his TED talk also and may just go watch it again! Thanks for sharing with the readers here.
Yes. practice. All is practice.
Thank you Daisy for this wonderful essay and thanks also to Shirley for bringing Daisy and her writing closer. I don’t know anyone who is “there” yet, but I think we all try. In the troubling world we live in it is of utmost importance to make every day as good as they can be and to spread the beauty of world rather than the negativity.
Good point, Joan! I love this sentence: “it is of utmost importance to make every day as good as they can be and to spread the beauty of world rather than the negativity.”
Thanks for stopping by and blessing this series with your presence.
A lovely essay. My challenge is finding the good in the painful times, though like so many who have commented, I’m working on it. As a prairie fan myself, and someone who values place in my writing, I’m eager to read your book, Daisy.
Carol, I’m so glad you stopped by. I’m sure you will resonate with Daisy’s book. Your own writing shows a deep prairies wisdom that I know Daisy will love also. So great to connect good writers with each other.