Wednesday, October 20, 2010

On Sunday I rode my bike on our city's riverside Greenbelt for 21.4 miles.  (I love my Garmin.)  It was a beautiful afternoon, the colors are changing and the softness of autumn light is simply soothing to my soul.  The path I rode winds along the river, and through some neighborhoods, and alongside a few large ponds.  It was a good workout, but it was also a good way to blow the cobwebs out of my mind, and remind myself of some good things. 

I pedaled past a perfectly beautiful tree.  It stood in the center of a small wooded meadow at mile 3'ish on my ride, a meadow that the path loops around.  I was lucky to notice it as I came around a curve.  The autumn light hit the tree with such perfect radiance, the sun shining on and through and around the branches and leaves, which were a riot of color in varying shades of rich burgundy red, golden red, coral, orange. 

My pace (thank you, Garmin) was important to me, and so I slowed slightly but kept pedaling.  As I pedaled, I thought repeatedly about that tree.  I'd decided to stop on my return to take some photos with my cell phone camera.  The thoughts I was having were all about hidden beauty, and the way that nature blends unexpected colors in perfect beauty.  But when I got back to the little meadow, the light had shifted.  The tree, while still lovely, was not an immense radiant jewel glowing in the perfect angle of sunlight.  It was a tree, adorned in fall colors.

Take the moments when they are offered. 

My best to all who happen this way!


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Course Changes

On Thursday night while I was out walking a few miles, I passed children playing flag football at the nearby school.  It was apparently sanctioned and official-ish looking game (relatively, it was flag football, after all) which was only clear because there were actual sidelines marked on the grass and there were parent-type people on the sidelines and a guy with a whistle.  The kids were just out there to play.  They largely ignored the coaches and the whistle, and basically chased whoever had the ball until it was lost, and then chased whoever picked it up.  The group flowed around the field looking like a fleece-and-denim-clad school of minnows.  And their laughter was like music.

It is not typical for me to walk or exercise without my iPod.  I need something to distract me from the sounds of my feet or my bike tire on the pavement.  I would have missed that sweet and lovely sound entirely, had I been wearing headphones. 

The moment has stuck with me.  I keep hearing that laughter, and watching the effortless turns and spins and reversals of course on that field, seeing the laughter that accompanied the change in direction.  It made me wonder when we lose that.  When do we stop seeing changes in course as the inevitable result of playing the game, or of living our lives, and become so focused on the original course that deviations to it are seen as failures, or irritants?  How many times do we use the phrase "get back on track" (or some variation) in a week?  Do we ever consider whether the new course is simply the one that was intended all along?  That we might have stumbled over the right course by some magic of alchemy and gravity and pure dumb luck?

It's about goals, I think.  The inflexibility of our goals.  But it is also about having a rigid expectation of what it means to do the right thing.  It is being unable to acknowledge that being on the right path, the one that leads to joy, is every bit as important as meeting our original goals or our personal expectations.  For some, it is easy to walk away from a responsibility. 

For others, it seems nearly impossible - and this post is for those people. Please remember - our lives are not either/or.  Our options are not merely "stay the original course with your teeth gritted against how much it hurts and feel wrong" or "walk away and start a new life."  There are a million options between those poles, and our hard work is to find the one that is most fulfilling without losing our integrity. 

When you are in the middle of a trial in life, it is not easy to do the thing that we have not done before, to make the choice that is not the familiar one.  But it's the only way to see what new joy might come, what measure of happiness might be returned if we try another tack. 

I'm working hard at finding my joy these days.  This week I'm going to try to see changes in course like I'm 7 years old and running after a ball carrier on a flag football field.  Feel the joy of being able to run and turn, be mindful of the lumpy turf under my feet and keep my eyes on the ball, but laugh with abandon when my plan is foiled by a turnover. 

Be well and happy!