In a plein air setting, there are elements to contend with. And they are beyond my control. Storm clouds. They gestate on the backbone of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, rolling and rolling. Insects. I imagine the pause, the space between their delicate wings. Their “zzz” is an invitation to settle now.
A yipping dog, the growl of machinery— I can suffer or I can accept these things just as they are. I choose to accept them and my awareness expands to the include bird song and the sensuous sway of the oaks in this overgrown grove. I start to notice my breath deepen.
I’ve been away from myself, lost in the world of business and achievement. I feel a deep relief at returning to my five senses. This is the place I can always return to, it will not let me down- my own body and the miracle of sight, sound, touch, smell and taste.
The landscape hums at a steady beat. My awareness both deepens and expands. A family walks up, noisy and unconscious of invading “my space”. What can I do but allow this too and suddenly it changes from an annoyance to a delight— the children joyful and excited to be outdoors, enjoying their snacks and the freedom to jump and roam and be loud.
The boy asks me, “What are you doing?”
“Writing in my journal,” I say.
I almost didn’t make it here today, though it’s been on my calendar for months and took me that long to shift my schedule to allow this project to happen. As the morning became filled with chores that seemed impossible to leave until later, I found myself feeling rushed and late to my own creativity. I was concerned about the heat at mid-day, of being late to afternoon appointments. I thought, “Forget it.”
What keeps me lost in the busy world, disconnected, pushing myself harder when I’m exhausted? The remedy is to slow down and reconnect by bridging the mind and body through awareness. Yet when I feel most disconnected, I tend to try harder, work more, go even faster.
Now, the tiniest raindrops are refreshing as they dot the pages and my cheeks. It’s a bit thrilling to think I might have to pack up and run at any moment if it starts to really pour. A relief settles in and the real fear— that I have nothing to say— starts to give way.
At a snail’s pace my heartbeat slows and this anxiety I feel at keeping up with the technological rush quiets. I remember myself, something larger than myself. It happens easily, naturally, as if I am designed to be connected, to be sensitive, to find meaning in my world. And when I lose sight of those qualities, to yearn to find them again and again.
There was no way to clear
this ancient oak grove
one more grief to the world.
So just let it do this,
wild and tangled and uncertain.
All of the leaves are on the branches
or have fallen to soil,
except the one
pressed on this page of my journal.
-Renee Podunovich, 2015