Free Redemption, With or Without Coupon

I tend to think redemption requires a lot of effort on my part, but maybe it’s always already present, just waiting to be recognized.

When a sprained ankle ended my backpacking plans, I decided to take the vacation days anyway and hang out at home—my first ever staycation. To ensure the vacation aspect, I told myself no judgment was allowed on the basis of things done or not done. (Note that I didn’t eschew judgment altogether, God forbid.)

The gap between theory and practice was, not surprisingly, rather large. I chose to loop an internal video of returning to work and people asking, “So what did you do?” while I frantically attempted to create answers. After all, they didn’t get the “Terms of Judgment” memo, and clearly these people who genuinely like me will concentrate on finding fault above all else.

Then one day, I took a long drive up the Big Sur coastline with my friend Susan for no other purpose than beauty and joy taking form in nature, friendship, and food. It was a sun-tipped, ocean-clad drive along the cliffs, which put on their most dramatic show in that part of the world. We shared wonderful conversation, and though we had a destination—a restaurant—we relaxed into not having anywhere to be at any particular time.

During the trip I didn’t once think about tasks or the reporting of accomplishments, and when I got home, the whole scenario had lost its power to agitate me.

Redemption is as easy and accessible as enjoying a beautiful day. Redemption is not about suffering; it is about the transformation of suffering into joy. It is not earned; it is available. It is not coming; it is already taken care of.

I don’t know why sometimes we enter into it without effort and sometimes it appears elusive. Perhaps we can only recognize it when we stop trying to make it happen and accept it as gift.

Homecoming

First, thank you to Anne for her wise guest blogs. Those hard-to-begin apples came to mind as I sorted through my accumulated emails. Second, this is your blog on some serious jetlag, so I’m going to keep it short. If it doesn’t also come out sweet, I beg your indulgence until my brain and I are reconnected in the same time zone next week.

I was in transit for a few days, which gave me the odd feeling of being location-less. Place began to slip away at the fancy airport hotel that lacked any hint of Greece except the stuffed grape leaves at the buffet. It disappeared altogether during a surreal sprint through the Vienna airport—picture any dream you’ve had about trying to get somewhere and failing, give it to Kafka for rendering, and you’ve got a good idea of being between terminals in Vienna. And finally, I spent a night in New York City but a New York City without subways and almost without sidewalks as my cousin picked me up from the airport and a car delivered me back to it at 4 a.m. the next day.

All of which made me grateful that I belong to a certain spot of Earth. The oak trees on the hills began to place me during the drive from LA. While I was eating lunch on my first full day back, a hummingbird came by to check out the Mexican sage by my bench. Greece and California look a lot alike, but I didn’t see any hummers while I was there.

So to all the people, creatures, and plants, the smell of the air and the feel of the soil, the ocean and the hills, and even the In ‘N Out hamburger joints, thank you for making this place home.