A few months ago, I heard a story from someone I admire. She was driving along the road and spotted a hawk flying overhead. She watched the hawk floating along for quite a distance and then when the hawk seemed to fly over the woods off of the road, she pulled off the road into the woods and continued to follow the hawk. The journey finally ended when she couldn’t proceed any further into the woods. In that space, she pulled out her journal and wrote in that peaceful, secluded spot.
I envy that. Had it been me, I wouldn’t have noticed the hawk…or the road, or the forest or the trees or anything else. I’m usually so full of what’s going on at work, what the kids need, what errands I need to do, what jobs I have in my freelance queue, and so on that I generally forget where I am or how I got there. I envy someone who is so mindful of their surroundings that they can notice beauty in front of them and not stop there. But they can actually make a conscious decision to follow the beauty simply to see where it leads.
As much as I try to practice mindfulness, I often forget. I start out with every intention but distractions set in and before I know it, I’m thinking of my bucket list, my errand list or any number of other things I have going on at the moment.
However, instead of getting frustrated with myself lately, I have decided to own it. This is how I am right now and I am owning that fact. Instead of saying ‘wow, I’m distracted, I wish I weren’t’ - I simply own that I have lots going on and I’ll meditate when the thought occurs to me. It will happen when I need to. Of maybe I’ll set aside a few moments each morning and just spend it quietly to see what unfolds. It takes the pressure off, it really does.
But I am trying to be more conscious of my surroundings so I can see the forest through the trees and see beauty above me, around me, or in front of me. And when I do, I hope I can remember to follow it. Because if I do, when I get there, what’s waiting for me is going to be so much more important than the things I’m occupying my mind with right now.
I’m curious to see where the line crosses from wanting and needing time alone into isolating from everyone and everything. My soul usually craves time alone now where I just want the opportunity that I so rarely receive, to sit in quiet meditation either in the yard or somewhere in my home, and just see what happens. I firmly believe that the reason I can’t hear God answering my prayers is that I have too much chatter going on to listen. Either there are kids playing or dogs barking or television/ipod/guitar heros/insert noun here and there is so much noise that I can’t even hear myself think let alone hear God speaking to me in that quiet way He has. So when opportunity knocks, I’m listening. And when I do, I usually hear or at least intuitively feel something that I need to work on about myself.
But taking those precious moments truly does require giving up something else and that usually is time spent with a friend. So where is the line? How can I balance spending time with friends and other loved ones but also find time for myself when spare time is virtually non-existent for a single, working mom like me? If you’re expecting some answer to a seemingly rhetorical question, you won’t find it here…because I don’t know. It’s a precarious balance for me and one that I seem to be losing. I insist of spending that time in quiet because my soul is screaming for it right now. It’s like there is something on the tip of my tongue or right around the corner and I know it’s there but I just can’t get to it. So when I get the chance, I’m going to be quiet and listen because I really want to see what’s around that corner. I want the solution to the problem - that answer that is on the tip of my tongue. Unfortunately, other things - like relationships - are put on the back burner.
One thing I do know is that I tend to isolate when I get resentful about something so maybe that is the answer. If all is right with my spiritual self, and I want to sit and meditate and spend an evening or a week or hell…even a summer by myself - as long as I’m not doing it to avoid people, then that’s okay and that’s called solitude. But if I’m feeling angry or bitter or resentful or the like, that’s when it becomes isolation and the solution to that problem is usually to do some writing or make an amends or just generally work on that problem until I figure it out.
Maybe it’s not as important to see where the line crosses as it is to see what the line is made of.
Distractions are everywhere lately. I can’t seem to avoid them and they are interrupting my routine. Well, isn’t that what distractions do though? I remember reading a meditation book not long ago by Thich Nhat Hanh. It was about mindful living and how we should focus on the tasks at hand by breathing. Even a mundane task like doing dishes should be performed in a mindful way. He said something to the effect that we should say (to ourselves) this mantra when performing the task: “Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile.”
As Polonius prepares his son Laertes for a trip abroad in Hamlet, he tells him “this above all, to thine own self be true. And it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” This is one of my most loved Shakespearean quotes and one that I try to live by daily. I can’t imagine the alternative.
Raise your hand if you’ve done any of the following in the past week:
My dishwasher broke on Memorial Day weekend. The timing couldn't have been worse. It broke right after I had to have my heat pump worked on and a thermostat replaced. It also occurred while I was unemployed without a prospect in sight. Frustrated and tired from hosting my sister and her family for the weekend (which meant I took the couch while they took my bed), I sat down in my family room and I announced “I am at the end of my rope”. My eleven year old nephew sat nearby. He looked up from the television and he asked me “why don’t you get more rope?”
My daughter’s soccer team played in a tournament this weekend. They played two games on Saturday and then a third Sunday morning. Depending on points scored and all that, they would or wouldn’t have played in the final championship game Sunday afternoon.
I’m probably the last person who should be writing about feeding the soul lately. It’s been a tumultuous time in that crazy game of life and I find myself sighing a lot lately. One of the things; however, that I love about the soul is that it is connected to the mind. What the mind thinks, the soul feels so to speak. So if I can think about forgiving myself and starting over, the soul will start to compensate.
More than one person mentioned the fact that I haven’t updated this blog in a few weeks. I blamed it on the fact that I’ve been really busy with, well, you know…stuff. But the truth is, I’ve been ‘stuck’. And it’s tough to write or do just about anything when you get stuck. You know that place – where the “I should” meets the “I can’t” and all you want to do is play Mafia Wars and forget about searching for a job, cleaning up the house, taking care of your soul. Note: Mafia Wars does nothing for the soul.
I've been thinking a lot today about a story I read of a man who had a dream. He believed in his dream and in himself so much that he went out to visit some banks asking for a loan to bring his dream to fruition. He went to more than one. He had to - the first one turned him down. Actually, the first three hundred or so turned him down. But he kept asking because he kept believing.