“…..I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look….To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.” — Thoreau, Walden
My husband and I recently returned from a trip to Iowa for Thanksgiving. We flew into the deep-freeze of the Midwest where Mother Nature greeted us with a few inches of fresh snow on our second day. Just enough white stuff to set the backdrop for a Currier and Ives Holiday postcard. While we were on our trip, the colorful lights of the season began to bloom; Christmas trees were erected, and yard ornaments were pulled from attics and boldly displayed. Ahhh, the decorations!
Flying home to Florida, as our plane began its descent, Christmas lights could be seen from the air. Bright splashes of color against the black canvas of night, bordered by the lines of streetlights in their neighborhood grids. And once on the ground, we drove past beautifully lit palm trees. Their magnificent trunks wrapped in light with clear bulbs fanning out on the umbrella of fronds at the top. I am fascinated at the beauty of a lit palm tree and completely intrigued at the time and skill it must take to assemble the lights in such a way.
The wonder of the holiday season always gets me thinking. Let’s get the tree up and decorated, and then I need to shop for gifts and wrap them with care so they look really appealing and special. I should start baking some treats and stock the freezer; create my greeting cards and get them in the mail. MaybeI should buy a new outfit for holiday gatherings. Maybe I should lose a few pounds first. Perhaps pigs will fly.
I know I’m not alone in my lofty expectations. Most of us are very driven during the holidays to create something special. We decorate our homes, inside and out, to be more lovely to look at. We pride ourselves on finding just the right gift and packaging it for greater allure. We create this beautiful illusion around us to “get into the spirit,” and I, for one, am grateful.
The holidays unify us. Neighbors and strangers and family and friends — each with our own beliefs and our individual tastes — come together and celebrate. We may not all be celebrating the same thing, but we are all welcome to partake of the beauty and the festive atmosphere.
So, if in the words of Thoreau man has the “unquestionable ability to elevate his life through conscious endeavor,” are we actually doing it? I mean, each day of our lives are we mindfully decorating our lives and creating a lovely canvas to reflect upon or display for others? Are we “affecting the quality of our day” through our actions and our words? Are we absorbing the beauty of the season and carrying it with us throughout the entire year?
Holiday lights, stored tangled in boxes. Recipes of fruit cake pushed to the back of the book. Your best table linens folded gently in a drawer. Your highest self. Your best side. Generosity. Forgiveness. Tucked away, they lay in wait until, and with conscious endeavor, we chose to bring them to light and share them. In doing so, we affect the quality of our day, and quite possibly, the quality of someone else’s day as well.
Laurie Kasperbauer is an active Florida Realtor specializing in properties in Naples and Marco Island. Laurie also enjoys the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice and instructs both group and private classes.