The sky is rumbling again.
Long, quaking echos of thunder emerge from the storm that’s beginning to water my garden.
My daughter and I are cozy inside, listening to Still Corners while she drives around her little Flintstones-esque car.
The earth is already saturated from last night’s downpour, but not so much that it prevented us from heading out onto one of the park’s gravel-lined trails for an early afternoon hike a few hours ago.
The crunch of the ground beneath my feet made my heart start to come alive the second that my shoes hit the stones.
The feel of sweat dripping inside of my tank top and catching on my upper lip instantly woke up my soul.
Exercise really does help me get rid of my monkey mind, of my perpetually moving brain.
I guess some people would call my mental style ADHD, and that’s fine with me. I don’t mind labels—I just don’t let myself be contained by them either.
I look up from where I sit typing now, with the rain and the music providing a steady, thumping backdrop, and I observe my little girl rolling around in her Cozy Coup, looking for the best way to get over the hurdle of gliding from the wood floor and onto the white-tiled hallway.
This morning I felt like garbage.
I woke up and my eyes were literally as red as my small lady’s plastic car. (That supermoon has taken a toll on our household sleep.)
My typical morning coffee didn’t do the trick, and neither did my bath.
Nothing, including getting out of the house for some crack-of-dawn errands, seemed to lighten my heavy spirits and awaken my downtrodden body—until I stole 30 minutes to work out.
My husband’s a cyclist; he rides a single-speed up seriously steep hills, like the bad-ass athlete that he’s always been, since well before I met him at age 14.
I slightly pathetically begged him to take our daughter for me while he finished up his own pre-work routine. (It wasn’t yet 8 am—I told you we’ve been lacking in the sleep department.)
I dashed downstairs to our workout area—free weights, an awesome Spinning bike that was my Valentine’s Day present years ago (diamonds are over-rated) and my beloved Nordic Track, circa 1980-whatever.
Still wearing my dress, I tore off my short-sleeve cardigan and threw on my tennis shoes. I cranked up Incubus on my iPod (I admit to getting stuck on tunes from my youth; listening to the same album repeatedly for a week or a month before moving onto something else)—and I took off (well, kind of, I was stationary, I’m aware).
The music pounded and so did my beating heart.
I unwisely hadn’t made as much time this past week to move my body as I normally do, having had several appointments and being hampered also by this recurrent soggy weather.
I watched the sky grow clearer through the large picture window in front of me as I rhythmically moved my feet along those stationary wooden skis—and I turned the music up louder.
I watched the clock, so as not to make my husband late. (He would almost assuredly rather slightly delay his departure than stop me from making myself feel better.)
The sky opened up and so did my mind—my own mental clutter and debris being swept away, my dress now sticky. (Don’t worry, I changed.)
A little while later, after switching clothes, spending time with friends and having lunch, my little girl and I decided to get out onto our gorgeous local trails before the rain made its now familiar appearance once again (that crunchy hike on the gravelly trail I mentioned before).
She sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star at the top of her lungs as I happily pushed her in her stroller, up and down the hilly terrain, listening to her perfectly pitched song and watching her cute hands move in motions that matched her words—and I got deliciously sweaty all over again.
I felt the pebble-littered trail beneath my rubber soles and heard the birds singing along with my tender child, as my thankful eyes drank in the lush greens and emotionally stabilizing tans and greys of the trees and rocks that surrounded me.
Later still, when the rain began to beat my windshield, I saw the steady motion of my wiper blades and listened all over again to my daughter’s singing—this time a tricky medley of Twinkle Twinkle and the Itsy Bitsy Spider—and I can’t help but wonder why we make things so hard on ourselves sometimes.
We watch our brains whirl and go and they don’t seem to wait for us to catch up.
We get irritated with the other people that make up our world. (To be fair, some are more challenging than others.)
We don’t pay full attention to what we’re doing—and multi-tasking is a myth. (I’m guilty even now—handing my daughter a snack while finishing up my thoughts here with you.)
Yet often we don’t have a choice—we have human responsibilities that get in the way of our more primitive needs.
I did it just this week by allowing my hurried schedule, and my subsequently tired but needy body, meander myself away from my usually disciplined workout routine.
And here’s the thing—if we expend only a microscopic amount of additional time and energy paying attention to what our bodies are asking us to do (eat right, move around, and get some sleep for Godsakes), then everything else becomes easier, naturally.
So while I won’t pretend to know or even fully understand your own personal situation, I do have compassion. Because I, too, have a child who doesn’t prefer to sleep as much as I (or not really much at all, if I’m being completely honest).
I also have a life that requires my attention, money and resources—usually outside from where I’d prefer these things to be—and that’s life.
Life means having things to do that you wouldn’t necessarily place first, but life should also mean making sure that you’re fitting in some of that other good stuff along with it.
We don’t need to be weekend warriors—what a waste of an opportunity if we save everything that we desperately want to do for a rainy day inside of a bucket list of dreams.
Do something every day that you would maybe only consider appropriate for a Friday night. Try it. Just once.
You might discover a different world—a better one—that’s been waiting patiently for you all along, you’ve had only to notice it.
My daughter’s singing trails off, and the rain is really coming down now.
I’m so glad that we went for that walk outside.
Not because I’m glad that I took advantage of the sunshine—although I am—but because now I can sit back and enjoy the cleansing sounds of the driving cloudburst, since I’ve already purified myself from the inside out—and I hope I’m teaching her to do the same.
I hope I’m showing my daughter that life isn’t made of weekdays and weekends, rather it’s made of opportunities that we take or let slip by. I hope I’m showing her, too, that inside of her human form lies an eternal well of energy, one that she can tap into at anytime, if she chooses.
Possibly I’ll also help her understand that more often than not the solutions are right there in front of our faces, and that they aren’t as complicated as we think they should be.
For me, my mental chatter needed a break, so I took my body for a walk. That’s it. That’s all I needed.
Life is difficult enough,and then we have to go and make it even harder.
I look back out my big front picture window and notice a clearing sky and patches of beaming sun and I’m grateful knowing that I’ll sleep well tonight.
“If a man achieves victory over this body, who in the world can exercise power over him? He who rules himself rules over the whole world.”
~ Vinoba Bhave
Photo: David Salafia/Flickr.
This article was first published by elephant journal.