Life is not back to normal, but no one is surprised.
The days are long, sometimes too long, but the months are short and fleeting. Often I feel as though time is slipping through my fingers as I’m counting the minutes, watching the seasons turn outside my window. I am simultaneously restless and overwhelmed. I must not be the only person to experience this most unwelcome feeling.
So, when life becomes too much, I seek the most simple pleasures.
I put down my work. Whatever it is, I can find a moment to set it down, physically, mentally, emotionally. There are enough minutes in the day. Surely I can find a few to shut the door, unknit my eyebrows and shoulders, and take in several deep, intentional breaths, sending all the kinks out with the exhales.
I go outside. I move my body to work out the stiffness. I let the endorphins flood in. It feels good to move and stretch, and the air is fresh and reviving.
I slice a mango. There is nothing sweeter than a midsummer mango from the street market. The flesh is the perfect, velvety yellow gold, and it tastes like youth, and sunshine. The world may go on around me, but in that moment, there is nothing else but the perfect fruit.
I watch the sunset. I drink in the watercolor pinks and creamsicle orange, the soft purple of the growing night, and the gilded clouds, as if brushed with gold by the graceful hand of a nymph.
Perhaps they were.
It’s said that on those golden clouds of the sunset, there is a garden. In this garden grow trees that bear golden apples, the only ones of their kind, and when eaten, these apples grant immortality. The grove belongs to Hera, the queen of the Greek pantheon, as it was her bridal gift when she married Zeus.
The garden is guarded by a hundred-headed dragon, and the precious golden apples are tended lovingly by the Hesperides, the nymphs of the golden sunset. They live only in the dreamy moments between late afternoon and dusk, gone with the twilight, and the golden glow of the apples that can be seen on the edges of clouds disappear with them.
The daughters of the evening represent a strange phenomenon. They are immortal, living forever in the clouds, but so fleeting—you can catch a glimpse only once a day, for a few precious moments as day melts into night.
What you are left with, after the sunset, is up to you. As night sweeps over the sky, I might feel a lack: the sunset is over, the mango eaten, the body worn out and in need of rest. But it is never just these simple pleasures that bring me joy and contentment. It’s the gratefulness, which lasts long after the sun has set.
To feel grateful for the fruit, the fresh air, the oil painting sky, is to be at peace when they are gone, knowing that another day will come when you will bask again in the golden light of evening.