As our last weeks in Florida go by, I find myself looking with fresh eyes at the natural world right outside our door, just like I did when we first arrived here. When you know you are moving (and who knows when you will return), everything takes on a special light, a different vibration. Habit falls away and you see every detail with delight and appreciation. A group of ten white ibises with long curved orange beaks walks slowly past our lanai. A palm warbler on the window ledge looks around curiously, bobbing its tail. A giant swallowtail butterfly, the largest in the U.S., serenely floats by and lands on a bush next to the trail where I am walking. A zebra longwing butterfly flutters in the air nearby. So many amazing creatures so close and clearly visible. None of them native to Massachusetts. These are once-in-a-lifetime moments, I say to myself; savor them.
There are such moments in New England too, of course—birds and butterflies I have missed seeing and look forward to seeing again soon. Yet, now, here, in this present moment, I am appreciating Florida’s tropical uniqueness. The exotic flowers that bloom throughout the year, the palm and cypress trees, the multiplicity of water birds, the spectacular cloud formations and dramatic weather patterns. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t see something I’ve never seen before. What a gift! I’ve known this all along, but today, looking ahead to the leaving, I really know it.
So this is the greater lesson of being here—and, really, of being a human on planet Earth: Don’t take anything for granted. Always look at the world as if for the first, or last, time. Appreciate every moment, every beautiful detail of life and living. You may never pass this way again. You may never see a robin in the spring or a maple tree in the autumn. An orchid or hibiscus in full bloom. You may never see someone you love again. Look in their eyes and see their soul each time you are together. Look in the eyes of your animal companion and see their absolute love and devotion. Your time here on Earth is sacred.
I remember this as I look out the window or take my daily walks these final weeks in Florida. This is my life, every extraordinary unrepeatable second, the sadness as well as the joy. To be human is to be given a cornucopia of daily wonders. If I hold this truth in my heart each day, then I live with love and gratitude, and no moment, no experience, passes that I don’t fully appreciate. This is the gift that Florida has given me: I have been reminded once more to let go of everything that is not essential and see the world, every bit of it, as the blessing it truly is.