Today's Draw: The Wheel from the Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert. How many times today would you say you were fully engaged in the moment? How much of your day is spent in a fog of to-do lists, distractions and thought? Are you ready for a challenge?
Today was an unusually spectacular day for summer in Washington, DC. High of 80. Breezy. No humidity. The same weather will take us out the week. Usually by this time of year, I'm just about to pack it in and not exit the house for the summer. But our unusually warm spring has given way to a pleasant summer so far. So how I could choose any other deck than the one named after Gaia herself today?
The Wheel comes to remind us that everything has a season. Everything is part of a cycle. The weather I'm enjoying? It will change. The feelings you're feeling today? They will change. The people and relationships around you? They will change, too. In fact your only chance at having all the same variables in place just as they are now is in this present moment.
This morning I went to my favorite park to sit after I visited the farmer's market. As I was sitting there enjoying the view, a lady came to the table next to me, opened up her phone and proceeded to have a 15 minute conversation about nothing of consequence. I eventually moved to another table where I couldn't hear her. By that time, however, her conversation was ending and she sat down with her back to the river...so that she was facing the parking lot...and read a book. Haha.
Really, it's not my place to judge her visit to the park and it's none of my business what her purpose there was. But as long as she wasn't even going to LOOK at the park, I wonder why she even left home. See, I struggle with people who go to the park just to talk on the phone. There's another park I go to where, in the center of the park, you can't hear anything but nature. That's so rare in this highly populated area. No traffic sounds. No sirens. Just the occasional airplane. Otherwise, it's profoundly silent. And I will hike deep into that park on an isolated trail and, invariably, someone will walk by on their phone complaining about the cell coverage....haha.
The view from my "office" around noon today.
The ironic thing about the woman this morning is that one of the things I heard her say to the person she was talking to was about how she needed to take better care of herself. And there she was in an incredibly healing environment...talking on the phone! Then putting her back to the river so all she saw was the traffic on the parkway! Again, her reasons for going to the park and her way of enjoying herself don't have to be mine. So it's none of my business. Which is why I struggle with this. It's a control issue on my part to a certain degree. And it's also a frustration because it just so happens I don't go to the park to her her phone conversations.
But one of the things The Wheel comes to tell us is about being in the moment. And you can be in the moment on the phone. Or reading a book. Or sitting in silence in front of the river. You can be in the moment during all those activities. But often, we're not. We're thinking about yesterday and tomorrow and what to say to so-and-so... and what people shouldn't do and where they shouldn't do it....haha.
The thing is, the only chance either she or I had at that specific time of magic when the sun was glinting off the water just so, the fish were jumping for insects, the breeze was blowing cool, the vista was crystal clear, the coffee was warm in my hand and the clouds were still shifting from yesterday's gray to today's white and fluffy, was in that one moment. I got to be there to experience that moment...and then I got to be there to be distracted by her phone call and my cell-phone-at-the-park issues....and then I got to experience the peace and healing of the river again. I don't know what Chatty Cathy experienced, but from her restless distraction, I doubt she was in the same moment I was.
Each day we're faced with countless moments and opportunities to just be happy in what is. Again, just today I got home from the park, gave each dog the bite of scone I'd saved them from the farmer's market, then sat down and checked my emails. I probably didn't look up for 15 minutes and my dogs were just staring at me in a way that said "OK, we got the scone, but we didn't get you." So I put my laptop down and loved them. But I missed the moment they REALLY wanted to love me. I do that all the time.
A secret path leading to places quiet and beautiful.
I would think it would take great discipline...or great surrender....to live in the moment all the time. So I'm not suggesting that. But I know all of us can live in the moment more. Honestly, there are entire days in each of our lives where our head is everywhere but here, in this moment, right? Yet, if we subscribe to Buddhist thought, and I do, then that's the only place we can find true bliss. So then the question becomes "why do I choose to place bliss aside in favor of the neurotic ramblings of my mind?"
I've spoken a lot about forming a daily practice of meditation. I've had one for close to 30 years now. Its intent is usually to put me in the now. But being in the now doesn't need a special place or a special time or a special ritual. All it needs is for us to start forming a habit of stopping the madness in our head and observing where we are, how our body feels, what we smell, what we see, etc....getting into the moment and noticing all the stuff we don't when we life moves by at a million miles per hour. For most of us, none of the crap we worry about all the time is relevant and/or imminent in THIS second.
In this very second I'm writing a blog, yes. But I'm also stopping frequently to feel the breeze on my cheek, smell the flowers so sweet at this liminal time of day and take a peek at my dogs who are 10 feet away watching me because that's their favorite thing to do. And there's this one tree that's across the street from the house behind me. Right at this moment, it's catching the full dose of a slowly setting sun while all the other trees behind and around it are already in shadow. It's just a freak of light and shade that exists only in this moment. In the time it took me to write about it, half the tree is now swallowed in the shade. Soon the whole tree will blend with the ones behind it and it will be as if it never was.
As I see the first of the lightning bugs blink on this GORGEOUS evening, I challenge you—how many times can you stop and Just. Be. Here. In the next 24 hours? You don't have to go outside. Heck, you could be watching TV. But how many times can you remember to stop and be fully engaged in the moment? And if you did that, how might it change the way you perceive your life? How might it, over time, change your physical health? How might it prove to be just the answer you've been looking for in your life?
The view Chatty Cathy dissed today. She's the white dot at the far right...nearly out of view/earshot. Where she belongs. :D