So I’m not going to get into this in too much detail as my blood pressure will probably spike again, not what I want it to do right before bed. Long story short, I made the mistake of watching the Presidential Debate last night. When I got out of bed this morning I was still bent out of shape and completely torqued about it. I was so angry that I let it cloud my thought process longer than I should have today.
Throughout the day there were several moments that reminded me to pause and breathe. Each of those moments were opportunities to step back, focus on the present, and remember to choose my values and attitude. The anger still burns in me, but I need to find productive ways to turn that into positive change instead of negative emotion. In pausing to look back on the day and see the turning points I hope to learn (and re-learn) ways to take a deep breath in the future.
The first moment was early this morning. On our run the sky was a wild color in the west. The moon was getting closer to the horizon and was 90% hidden by the cloud cover. The luminosity was so bright that the 10% of the light lit up much of the clouds and sky around it. While we ran we watch it pop out of the clouds and then slowly descend into more clouds and the bluffs. It was nothing short of spectacular.
In that moment I was 100% present and focused on the natural beauty of the outdoors. I was in the midst of physical activity so my endorphins and adrenaline were pumping. As my mind replayed the slow moving moonset I couldn’t help but remember that it displayed the true nature of all things. Brightness, darkness, clouds of uncertainty, peace, tension, and cycles. All things start, exist, change, and end. Whatever the future holds these natural rhythms will continue. I was looking at the big picture in the lens of the present and my heart was calmed.
Later in the morning I’d shared my nervousness (borderline panic) over the direction of our society with friends. Out of nowhere one of my friends sent back an incredibly well written response that set my heart at ease. His text reminded me to stay upbeat and hopeful. By reaching out and sharing my feelings with friends I opened myself up. I’m not usually the one who sees only darkness and not the light, but today I needed someone to help me find the light again. Incredible to think how much impact one short text could have on helping me take a deep breath and flip the switch back to positive mode. It reminded me to take the extra step when I see someone else struggling in the darkness.
Another exchange with a friend reminded me of the fragility of life. The reminder of him losing his father immediately turned my thoughts to losing Dad a few years ago. In that most painful of losses I’ve found strength, love, growth, and wisdom. By practicing gratitude I’ve found ways to take a horrible situation and turn it into a source of great strength. I would trade almost anything I could for even just one more day with Dad, but I can’t. It is done and I can’t change that he’s gone. What I can choose is to find a way to grow from the experience, to live better as a result of the experience, and become stronger through fully living through the experience.
In thinking about the loss of Dad this way I remembered how difficult life is in the tough times. In the midst of the challenge and pain we would give up almost anything to make it stop. If we keep our wits about us in the most difficult of times we can remember to find purpose in our suffering, we can remind ourselves that we grow the most through the deepest of pain. We have the ability to transform the pain and heart break into something beautiful, so much more beautiful than the pain… which is always temporary.
After work Becky and I hit the park for outdoor yoga. Throughout the practice I could feel my shoulders relax and the world outside of a couple of feet around me drift away. I was immersed only in the present, focused on my breathing, relaxed while sweating, straining, and stretching. During final rest I kept my eyes open and watched the could drift over head. They were beautiful as they slowly worked across the sky while continuing to slowly and effortlessly change shape. Again I was reminded of the temporary nature of life and pain. There was no way I could change the clouds or shift their path. I could only sit back, appreciate them, find beauty in them, and then watch them disappear.
When I put all of those experiences together I’m left with the following lessons to remember from today:
- Enjoy the beauty of the outdoors and its ability to focus my attention back to the only place it should be, the present moment
- Physical activity always boosts my spirit, even if I initially don’t think it will
- The cycles of birth, life, change, and death are natural and will continue for eternity, embrace that fact and use it to live joyfully
- When I’m hurting reach out to friends, they’ll be there to help
- We all lose sight of the light sometimes, ask for help when I can’t see it, lead others to it and be the light when someone else has lost it
- When things seem difficult remember that life is temporary and I will die, would I rather live in fear of death or truly live my life without fear? Why fear something that is natural?
- The most difficult of times are the times in which I’ve grown the most. The pain hurts, but I must remember to use it for a purpose and find ways to become better because of it.
- Yoga… one of the best ways in life to become all namaste and shit 😉
- Breathe, focus on breath, and remember that everything will pass. Enjoy the moment as it will be gone before I know it. Good, bad, beautiful, painful – the moments won’t last. My memories will and I have the ability to make them a light and a lesson or an anchor.
I guess there’s one more moment I should mention. Writing tonight’s blog. In this moment I am focused only on gratitude. When I pause and look at the world through that perspective my heart becomes full, I choose the right mindset, and I become closer to the person I am called to be. I am thankful for my gratitude practice, especially on days like this.