Just be.

Photo by Trey Ratcliff www.stuckincustoms.com
Photo by Trey Ratcliff

There is such beauty in the quiet. When the snow, the season, the microbes urge us to slow down and see. It is how we’re meant to live.

Breathe. Watch. Walk. Smile. Love. Do, but at a pace that matches who you are and where you’re going.

The universe is clever that way, always reminding us it’s okay to slow down and enjoy the calm.

My son just started horseback riding lessons at a farm in wine country. It’s remote and peaceful out among the grape vines and olive trees. During his first lesson they taught him how to lead the horse. Hold the lead securely but not too tight. Look in front of you, where you are and where you’re going. Embrace the direction you’ve chosen and walk slowly but purposefully. Know that as long as you’re calm and kind, you are in command. Notice the breeze, the rolling hills and the gentle sound of hooves on earth. The smell of your companion’s mane and breath. When you need to pause, a simple “whoa” and tug of the lead will do. When you’re ready to move forward again, take a step.

Look forward. Notice. Walk. Breathe. Smile. Love. Just be.

There is such beauty in the quiet.


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Let the Music Play on (play on, play on): trying not to fastforward through life

goat singingMy morning hikes are filled with music. My iPod sings my favorite songs to me the entire loop of Jim Green Trail. Everything from James Taylor to Janelle Monae. I tend to be moody about what music I’m into on any given day, so I often fastforward through songs I don’t believe are speaking to me or have the right energy for that day’s walk. I hear the opening few notes, nix it and tap the arrow to move ahead to something more acceptable. It’s mine to control, so why should I have to suffer tunes that aren’t floating my boat?

Early in this morning’s hike I caught myself clicking through a string of Beatles songs. As each began I hurried them along to something else, impatient to find that diddy that sang to my heart and my soul perfectly in that very moment. I noticed because they are all songs I adore and my resistance seemed unusual. Still, I kept clicking. Four or five songs in, the perfect one still foiling me, I stopped. I let that song sing, and the next, and then I surrendered to the iPod. I decided that whatever came up for the rest of the walk I would let it play in its entirety and, in its own time, move on.

Just for fun, click here for a little Lionel Richie inspiration. Don’t forget to let the music play on, play on, play on…

Song after song played as a perfect reaction to the thoughts and memories floating through my morning self, and I laughed at the perfection of it all. As I recalled wake-up time with my son, Sting sang Something The Boy Said. As I emerged from a more wooded area to an opening near the golf course, The Beatles announced it with Here Comes the Sun. I looked at the dusty, drought-weary trail and sent out a wish for rain just as Jarle Bernhoft began Ever Since I Was a Little Kid, and suddenly I was transported to the loop trail of Seattle’s Discovery Park where I used to hike all winter through the mud and a steady drizzle and listened to that then-recent purchase.

I let the water refresh me as I watched two squirrels race up one mossy California Oak, jump across to the next and titter down its twisted trunk, taunting each other for their own squirrel-ish reasons. I took my headphones off and the rising breeze through the tree grove serenaded me as I rounded the final bend of the trail. The orchestrated bleats from the goat farm across the pasture accompanied the last few steps to my car.

I sat quietly, the iPod already on the passenger seat, as I contemplated my day. This friendly but firm reminder was so simple, and if I hadn’t let it play out, I would have missed it entirely. I drove toward home and whatever the day held, knowing I wouldn’t fastforward through those tasks I thought weren’t important or people I didn’t care to interact with. Each one arrives as a perfectly timed opportunity, an experience, a healing, a lesson that is lost if I don’t accept it with gratitude and allow it to play out naturally. If I give up control and relax into the gifts offered, the music all around me rises in a grand crescendo of energy and love that can carry me anywhere. My day, my life, is exactly how it’s supposed to be. It is beautiful music.

Welcome the quiet

This morning I wiped out while taking a walk. Slid on a decline in the concrete, tore my hands open and scraped off much of the skin on my right knee. After the expletives stopped involuntarily exploding from my mouth, I laughed. It’s been at least 30 years since I last skinned my knee, I thought. Unfortunately, there was no one to see the fall, watch me laugh at my clumsiness or make the video. If they had I’d post it here. But alas, no one. Well, at least not in a living body.

I was walking quickly through a lovely cemetery at the top of Queen Anne hill and reading the names on the gravestones near the road. One right next to it popped out at me – Vane V. Vance. Really? Who was this guy? And who were his eccentric parents who thought that up? What could the middle initial possibly be? Did all of his luggage sport a triple V monogram? Maybe he designed his own logo. Maybe it looked like a mess of Vs like Volkswagen’s. As I giggled to myself and looked back to confirm I saw what I saw, a rock “popped out” from the pavement in just the right spot for me to step directly on it.

If I’d only listened more carefully. Truth is I’ve been getting messages to slow down for at least a week. My body, my mind, my energy. Even Henry has slowed his pace. Choosing to spend his time with us in the mornings and evenings, usually filled with exuberant play, instead calmly being read to or watching a few minutes of a movie. Rebelling against any activity done with any sense of urgency, especially getting ready to go somewhere by a certain time. They’re really good at that, aren’t they? Reminding us that being somewhere at a certain time only means something if we give it meaning. That time isn’t really linear. Children are really good at quantum physics.

In response to this universal and repeated appeal to slow down, I’ve gone inward. I’m working hard, but one of the benefits of being a writer and a person in need of the quiet is the solitary nature of my day. Introspection, meditation, time where it’s just me and the computer or me and the notepad or me and the pavement. There’s plenty of that. While I sometimes create activities where I must be amongst the people, I have not done so in the last week or so outside of my happy little nucleus of Henry and Larry.

I’m not the only one hearing this call…in a big way in recent days — to slow down, to look inwardly, to breathe fully, to take a break from the routine. Fellow writers are talking about it more eloquently than I, including fellow bloggers and like-minded souls. Facebook friends are posting more and more about the merits and pleasures of simply standing still and being. Folks in my life are having minor accidents, travel troubles, project delays at work, unexpected or even forced time off or time away. For the astrologers in the crowd, Mercury is in retrograde, which seems to help this kind of thing along. But I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it so consistently pronounced during such a short period of time.

As for me, I choose to heed the call. When I’m literally halted in my tracks and pushed to the ground while walking and thinking too quickly, it’s time to listen more carefully. To be more present. To be more aware. To see more clearly. To get off the treadmill. To evolve from the inside out. To be more quiet.

This excerpt from Free the Children, a wonderful fable about spiritual parenting by Bruce Scott, helped me get back there:

It is as though we all live in a giant movie theater with the same movie playing over and over again. Same dialogue. Same roles. Same actors, complaints and beliefs. And each morning we wake up, unaware that we are entering into the same theater, to once again watch and participate in the same film with the same ending. And together, six billion of us agree that this is the only film playing.

What if we suspect there is a different movie playing somewhere else…and we seek it out on our own?

Would you go to school? Would you ask your children to be compliant? To follow the rules? Get a job? Prepare for the future? Would you get up every morning to go to work? Would you have a religion?

Would you see women and men as wondrous beings without gender separation? Would you have need to marginalize people by making them wrong or right? Normal or abnormal? Crazy or sane? Hallucinating or having amazing visions?

Or might you go exploring into the wisdom of your heart and soul, and be with people from that place, living differently, quietly inside, softer with others, sweet with innocence, kind to the children, recognizing they, the little ones, will bring you home to yourself, deep inside, gently, with a giggle.

Thank goodness for the giggles, the falls and the quiet.