Learning A New Trick

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I’m that person who has a difficult time just sitting quietly doing nothing. I have friends who meditate each day, but I always feel distracted by my inclination to be busy whenever I attempt to slow the thoughts that race through my mind. I suppose that if I were to admit to one aspect of my personality that might need a bit of change, it would be learning how to simply relax and live in a moment. Instead I am more inclined to be measuring the progress of each day by counting the tasks I have accomplished from dawn to dusk. The more I have done, the better I feel, but perhaps there is something to be said for simply becoming one with the beating of my heart and the breaths that I take. 

I have a dear friend who once showed me the tiny closet that she had converted to a place of prayer. Inside she had placed a large pillow on which to perch while candles and incense filled the air with lovely scents. She told me that she often read inspirational texts and then closed her eyes and simply listened to the silence around her. She shut out the hustle and bustle of the world each day in a spiritual moment that brought her closer to a kind of nirvana and allowed her to understand her place in the vast universe. 

I often think of a sonnet by William Wordsworth whose words seem to describe my own dilemma, “The world is too much with us, late or soon. Getting and spending we lay waste our powers.” I see myself being distracted by so much during the day, that really is not as important as I often deem it to be. I instinctively know that I don’t really have to keep my home spotlessly clean or fret over the weeds in my garden, but nonetheless I grow anxious when things feel out of order. 

I greatly admire those who purposely pause to care for themselves, those who can leave dirty dishes in the sink or step over clothes thrown on the floor. My mother who had once run her household with an unbending schedule learned to let the cobwebs stay in the corner while she serendipitously drove to just sit watching the ocean waves. Life became a glorious adventure for her instead of a series of tasks to be done. 

I find my relaxed side whenever I travel with my trailer. On those excursions I do not set an alarm. I eat whatever I wish. I wander without aim. I see the world and its people in a spiritual way. I allow myself to relax and I free my mind to get in touch with beautifully random thoughts. It is as though each journey is a pilgrimage that sets me free from being too much with the world. 

Recently I read an article about a man’s discovery of Deer Island in Maine. He noted that he had first heard about the place when reading Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck. Later a friend would tell him that Deer Island was an enchanting place that no words might actually describe, so he decided to go see it for himself. He learned that there was indeed something magical about being there and his advice was that to fully know it, one must actually go there. 

I suppose that one day I would like to wend my way to that island. It would need to be a slow trip in which I tarried for a time here and there. Perhaps it would be nice to first head east along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, stopping for a day or even a week in Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and Georgia. I’d definitely want to spend time in Savannah, a wondrous little town that still fills my heart with the most pleasant memories. 

This adventure would have to take many weeks so as not to become tiresome from the drive. I would want to slowly inch my way up to Maine, avoiding the hubbub of cities and instead finding the secret hideaways of nature. Eventually I would travel along the Atlantic Coast to places that my ancestors of long ago might have visited. I’d watch the flora and fauna change as I travelled northward and begin to imagine the earliest people who roamed through the forests before Europeans sailed from across the ocean. My imagination would be set free to simply enjoy the gifts that still linger beyond the grip of civilization. 

For now, my task is caring for my aging father-in-law. I think that to do the best possible job of making his days comfortable I must learn how to relax and meditate on my own. I suppose that I may start by reading passages from books sent to me by friends. I will progress slowly and perhaps with practice I may actually learn how to stop the world for a time each day. I am an old dog, but I don’t think that I am beyond new tricks just yet. There is no better time than the present to try to find and enjoy silence, to hear the wind and revel in simply existing without a plan. It sounds rather pleasant, so I think I will try.


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