There is one patch of snow lingering across the parking lot. It marks the spot where most people piled up the snow from Snowzilla a week or so back to dig out their cars the day or two after the flakes stopped falling.
I paid careful attention to the snow as it fell and piled up, casting everyday objects into odd shapes and turning our paved streets into slightly plowed paths. We took a walk on Saturday night after the heavy snow stopped. The accumulation almost wiped away the sense that we lived in a civilization at all. It was just us, the wind and white that covered everything. It was peaceful and simple. It offered a reminder of a few Small Acts I need to spend more time practicing. The habits that cultivate a happier existence.
Just as quickly as the snow fell and inhibited our travel so too it quickly reminded me to be mindful. For days after, if I needed to walk somewhere, to the coffee shop to finally get out of the house or to the laundry room across the parking lot, I was reminded to mind my step else I may land on my head. It’s a Small Act that I need to be practicing every day, whether there’s ice on the ground or not. Mindfulness in all my actions, not just my walking. Even if it's just a moment every few hours, I’ve been working to take a mental note of my feelings, sensations, and thoughts without judgement.
I’m here. I’m okay: take note. I’m here. I’m sad: take note. I’m here. I’m anxious, take note. I'm here. I'm filled with gratitude: take note. Let go.
Being mindful of each step I take in the snow prevents me from falling. Being mindful of my thoughts and feelings, rather than judging them, prevents me from falling into depressive thought patterns and relieves stress. It’s a practice toward personal progress not an intent on perfection.
The snow really slowed things down. I didn’t need my car badly enough to dig it out in those days right after the snow stopped falling. I took the bus as usual, but that was slower too. The city slows down while cleaning up. I walk more slowly as I mind my steps. The snow melts slowly.
After pondering it, I made it another mental practice, perhaps falling into the mindfulness Small Act too, but on it’s own, reminding myself to slow down. I’m just one person, I can’t do everything at once. If I take it easy and know my limits I’ll get things done, and I don’t have to panic or stress to get there. We live in such a busy world, and it’s easy to get caught up in the merry-go-round of day to day life until one day I realize I’m stuck on it and it’s going too fast to get off safely. So I slow down and do what I can and be gentle with myself when I don’t conquer Rome in a day.
Proceed with Caution
As I’m minding my steps and going slow it’s important to keep those ideas in my mind as I go forward. Mindfulness at a good pace in one moment is great, but it’s easy to get swept back into negative thinking or cling to stress from work or unmet expectations. As I go forward I must do so with awareness, caution, so as not to forget to be mindful or take each step slowly. As I go about my life I can proceed with caution by practicing mindfulness and not going too fast else I will sacrifice the quality of my life and my experience.
These Small Acts remind me to be careful with myself and others, be attentive as I navigate life, and be aware of what's going on inside and outside. If I’m not careful, I may miss my life while it slips by without me truly paying attention to it, while I sit in the captain’s chair of my time machine speeding toward some reality that doesn't exist.
Each day is a gift and I’m thankful I’ve had the time to reflect on these Small Acts that help me with you.