I don’t take these moments lightly. They are gifts to me, opportunities to see a little more clearly when the waters are muddied.
And lately, I’ve allowed the waters to muddy to an unhealthy state.
Schools throughout the region are closed today because of an impending snow storm that wouldn’t make most other states even consider a late delay. But this is Maryland, and on days like this, I’ll take all the drama it wants to dish out over a 3-inch snow storm (really, for those who don’t live around here, you would have a good laugh at the “Team Coverage” for this so-named Winter Weather Event).
With the school closing comes a gift, a chance to breathe a little. A chance to write.
My daybook entry this morning started out as they usually do: filled with some frustration about various areas in my life, none of which I need to detail here. What’s important is that the frustration and the angst has become a self-feeding monster, feasting on its own drama and emotion, creating its own dangerous whirlwind that has consumed me.
Not healthy at all.
As I continued to write, though, I could feel the angst leaving, obviously stuffed with its own emotional feeding frenzy satisfying its appetite once again. Here’s where I usually stop writing, and that angst rules the rest of my day. But I kept writing today in its absence, and the clarity and purity become apparent in simple phrases and (re)discoveries. Suddenly, with the angst gone, I could resume my focus on moving on, living and loving a little more genuinely.
Living and Loving. Now, there are two things I want to be feeding every day. Not the angst and the anger and the frustration over not being able to change some things out of my control.
Living and Loving. Simple, clear, pure.
I picked up a book on my shelf that I started reading a while ago. It’s called The Little Book of Letting Go, by Hugh Prather. I’ve probably blogged about this book before. It’s a 30-day program to “cleanse your mind, lift your spirit, and replenish your soul.” Sounds just right for where I am in my life.
Before the first chapter, Hugh opens with a little story, called The River and the Lion. Here’s how it goes:
After the great rains, the lion was faced with crossing the river that had encircled him. Swimming was not in his nature, but it was either cross or die. The lion roared and charged the river, almost drowning before he retreated. Many more times he attacked the water, and each time he failed to cross. Exhausted, the lion lay down, and in his quietness he heard the river say, “Never fight what isn’t here.”
Cautiously, the lion looked up and asked, “What isn’t here?”
“Your enemy isn’t here,” answered the river. “Just as you are a lion, I am merely a river.”
Now the lion sat very still and studied the ways of the river. After a while, he walked to where a certain current brushed against the shore, and stepping in, floated to the other side.
Such a simple message, isn’t it? Stop fighting what isn’t there and live your life simply, using the path before you as a gentle companion and not as an enemy.
As I continued to write this morning, I started to get flashes of images I’ve seen over the last few weeks: gentle waves bathing the shoreline, a sun setting over a mountain-lined horizon, a rolling pasture of tall grasses waving in the invisible winds, all beautiful reminders of the beauty of life, the simplicity of nature, and the communion of our souls, different heartbeats, but a synchronicity that is more powerful than any other.
I know, I know. What happens tomorrow when I don’t get the snow break? When the whirlwind kicks back up? I’m still working on that…I ended my daybook entry this morning with that very question: How do you hold on to this? Right now, I have to believe it is done by remaining focused on what is most important to me and placing my energies into the areas that will strengthen my resolve to live more simply, more fully.
It’s a lifelong struggle for so many of us, and it’s easy to relinquish control to the angst, giving it the fuel it needs to be, once again, self-serving.
But awareness is a mighty defense. All I can do is keep writing, keep focused, on the things that breed life and love more deeply along my path as I take the next step forward or flow with the river next to me.