A natural pause button

The transition from the barely budding Virginia trees to the vibrant greens and almost fully leafed South Carolina trees astounds me on our drive down. Spring time marks a time of miraculous energy and life.  The simplicity and calm of this meticulous natural cycle always amazes me. It recently served as an important reminder for me.

I had one of those “I can’t find my car keys, I’m in a hurry” moments the other day. My frustration began to rise and I found myself feeling a bit overwhelmed. I finally found them, in my back pocket, and began my journey over to the community college to volunteer for a bit. As I was driving, I realized my frustration and questioned it. The mantra of internal criticisms started. Then I looked out at the world in front of me and noticed the bright green leaves, the purple flowers on some of the trees, two ducks flying in tandem. In that moment of pause and stillness something interesting happened. My frustrations melted away, they were no longer relevant. I was so in awe of the beauty of our planet that it swept me away for a moment.

Appreciation for nature

I remember reading excerpts from Walden by Henry David Thoreau and works by Ralph Waldo Emerson in high school. The transcendental authors were on to something. They recognized the natural world as the key to achieving a higher level of awareness. I find that to be true as well. Focusing in on the sound of singing birds, taking a moment to look up at the clear blue sky and a few floating clouds, or appreciating the blooms of spring flowers is a form of release. It’s almost like a pause button for me. It can stop my reeling mind.

I think this pause represents a very simple, but important Small Act. I often get consumed in the busy-ness of life. I float along in my time machine to some distant point in the future. I sit in front of a computer all day. I plan, analyze, research, and build. Those things are required for my current livelihood and my passions so it’s easy to get absorbed in them and the future. However, I think everything is better in moderation, and too much time on one thing can be overwhelming. Taking time to sit outside, even for just ten minutes, and listen to the birds or feel a warm spring time breeze on my face, helps me get out of my time machine and focus on the present moment.

Life is cyclical 

It’s not just the trees and plants that experience cycles though. We are also subject to a circadian rhythm that dictates our daily cycles such as sleep and wake times and other behaviors. I think life presents it’s own cycles in our circumstances and events. As I begin to pay more attention to my thoughts, attitudes, and reactions I am beginning to believe this more. Perhaps we are always given similar challenges to test our response and help us realize how much, if at all, we have grown since the last time the similar circumstance occurred. If I had continued to allow my car key frustration to funk up my perspective the other day, it would have been clear that not much growth has happened. However, I recognized my frustration and instead of letting it rule my day, I practiced the Small Act of focusing on and expressing gratitude for the natural beauty we are privileged to have here on Earth. To me, that represents growth, and progress, and shows me that I am successfully working my intention and goal of creating a “magnificent work of art, expressing compassion, love, truth, peace, and all that is good in our world.