Try It!

Photo by Engin Akyurt on

I love the quiet of a cold winter morning. For most of my life I had to rush around to be at school or work by a certain time. I’d rise from my slumbers on command from my alarm clock to fumble my way in the darkness before the dawn. I often left the comfort of my home before the sun had arisen to get in line with cars moving slowing to different destinations. I’d eat my breakfast as I navigated my way and sip on caffeinated drinks to keep me alert. 

I missed so much in those days. I was controlled by schedules and calendars. The only time I seemed to have to relax was when I fell into bed exhausted each night. That’s when my mind would drift to dreams and anxieties. I’d think of how lovely it would be to hide away in a tiny cabin in the woods where I had no worries or demands to keep me moving from one task to another. I loved my life and my career, but sometimes I felt so tired. I was living on a treadmill from which there seemed to be no escape, no time to just do what I wanted to to do. 

Retirement has changed all of that. Ironically I am unable to sleep late as I had so often wanted to do. I still mostly arise before the sun has lit up the new day. I like being alone in the house while my husband and father-in-law are still slumbering. I make my breakfast and my tea and find a quiet spot to watch the sun coming up on the horizon. I listen to my neighbors leaving for work and school. I revel in the sounds of living and laughter. 

I appreciate my morning freedom the most when there is a chill in the air. I don my favorite sweater over my pajamas and slip my feet into my furry slippers. I sit and experience total contentment devoid of thoughts about any plans or duties that I may have. I find that sweet spot in my mind that slows my breathing and brings my blood pressure down. I think that this surely must be what real meditation feels like. I smile and think of dear friends who used to attempt to show me how to find inner contentment through prayer and quiet reflection. In those days I was never able to slow down enough to understand how wonderful such moments can be. 

I have more clarity now than ever before. I think of how we all seem to spend too much time racing from one task to another, one place to another. I tell myself that “the world is too much with us.” I understand the power of stopping to smell the roses. I rejoice that “I can see clearly now.” All of the so called cliches come to mind and I find them too be far more wise than I ever thought they might be. We humans are actually no so different from the millions of souls who have come before us. We think that our modernity has made us different, but in reality life is about surviving and thriving and finding ourselves. Our tendency is to tackle the world rather than surrender to it. 

Perhaps we would all be wise to find balance in the way we live. We are certainly wired to tackle problems rather than to simply ignore them. We have the ability to learn and to change and our natures are often competitive. Nonetheless, we owe it to ourselves to find moments that are ours alone, time to chill however that may feel best. For some it will be reading or listening to music. For others it will be praying. For me it is just sitting still and listening to the sounds around me, allowing myself the luxury of doing nothing but existing alongside the people and the creatures who are on this journey of life with me. 

Soon enough my household comes alive with discussions of tasks that must be accomplished in the new day. There may be surprises that demand my attention or the routines of uneventful days may simply proceed. Like people all over the world I will dutifully join the daily procession of life armed with a new resolve born from my brief moments of early morning reflection. I’ll slip into my work clothes and tackle challenges or simply enjoy the monotony of an ordinary day. 

Time passes quickly. I blinked and I was suddenly a grandmother with flecks of gray sparkling in my hair. I glanced at my friends and saw old people and wondered when they had become that way. My little grandchildren are tall and confident young adults. My daughters speak of preparing for retirement within a decade or two. The family refers to me as the matriarch, a title that still seems to belong to my mother or mother-in-law until I remember that they are no longer here. I realize that my time is waning and I must make the best of every minute. Those early morning musings become more and more important to me. 

I wish that I had listened to good friends who counseled me to take more time for myself when I was young. Stopping for a moment does not have to be a lengthy or complicated venture. We owe it to ourselves to find a way to still the noise, relax, look deeply into our souls each and every day of our lives. I suspect that if we made our meditations an uncompromised part of our daily routines we would have a much better outlook on life. Find a way to stop the madness of the world if only for a minute or two. It will make a difference that will bring a smile to your face and comfort to your heart. Try it! I think you will like it.  


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