There is this person that I know. Every morning before the sun rises, when her eyes open and are greeted with the early morning darkness, she lies in bed and listens to the sound of the breath flowing into her lungs. Slow and steady she breathes deep and feels the air enter her lungs ever so slowly before she releases it back out into the darkness. She lays in the darkness and she becomes aware of the gift that it is to be alive, to feel the breath enter her lungs and to feel the soft beating of her heart in her chest. In the morning, she allows the darkness to surround her and the silence to soothe her and before her feet hit the ground she breathes a quiet prayer of thanks for the gift of a new day.
As she emerges into the day she is aware of every step she takes. She walks with intention and grace. She knows where she is going, but seems in no rush to get there. When she sees a flower in bloom, she stops. . . she really stops and breaths in the sweet scent. As she walk through the morning air she feels the wind brush against her face and she basks in the beauty of its unseen gentleness.
This person I know walks through life with a curious spirit. She takes time to read and to write because these are the things that fill her soul. She takes long walks near the waters edge because she is aware that, somehow, waves lapping against the shore have much to teach her. She shows up for the rising and the setting of the sun because each day, it’s a miracle. She passes by strangers on the street and she creates stories in her mind about the places they’ve been and the places they are going. Every step of her day she is aware of the breath in her lungs and the drumbeat cadence of her heart, which echos a thank you, thank you, thank you for this life.
When the sun shines bright this person that I know looks up to the sky and feels the warmth of the sun hit her face. She notices it, she feels it, she pauses in gratitude for it. When the clouds roll in, she allows the gray to wrap around her like a warm blanket. The changes of the season are the changes of a day are the changes in the moments. . .each one filled with lessons she longs to learn.
When the day comes to a close, this person that I know doesn’t fall into bed from exhaustion from a frantic day of survival, but she falls peacefully to sleep from a day full of awareness of the moments, the gift of a day, from the joy of the living present.
Unlike that person I know, when I wake in the morning, my feet hit the ground with just one eye open while I try to catch the current event headlines on the news as I nearly run to the shower. I hurry to get ready for the day, barely glancing in the mirror before the voice of three little people begin vying for my attention. I race through the morning barking out orders like a drill sergeant, Charlie! Focus and eat! Chanelle, go get dressed! Is your homework done?! Don’t forget your lunches! Let’s review spelling words. Charlie, stop fighting with Taza and get dressed! GUYS THE BUS IS GOING TO BE HERE IN 5 MINUTES! while answering emails, editing a few images and becoming annoyed by my own voice. My eye watches the clock like an eagle watches its prey. Throughout the day, errands are run, tasks are completed, to-do lists are mentally formed and checked off as I race from one moment to the next never really pausing to breathe. I sit and play a game with my littlest, but always mindful of that ever-growing list in my head, creating an intricate web of chaos that looks more beautiful than it feels. By the time darkness falls, stories have been read, and foreheads kissed, I fall onto the floor in exhaustion and Chad has to carry me to bed–unless he’s already passed out on the floor and I trip over him on my way to the soft pillow.
Such a contrast from the person I know.
That person I know? I catch glimpses of her, sometimes. She’s buried somewhere deep inside of me. She stuck way under the frantic striving for achievement. She is somewhere under the wreckage caused from the dust I leave as I race for some sort of imaginary finish line. I’ve caught glimpses of her, for just moments, in various seasons of my life–after my babies were born, after my Mom died, in great seasons of transition, that person has shown her face and calmed the chaos, because I’ve allowed her. However, more often than not, the hot-mess of me shows up, running shoes laced and ready to race.
I’ve been thinking about that person I know a lot lately. The person who calms the chaos. I’ve been thinking about how much I like her. How peaceful she is. How much I’d like to hang with her. How I’d like to let her out more. Visiting this space helps. Showing up and soaking in life for a few moments helps. But just like loving Jesus means more than warming a seat on Sunday morning, so does living a present life. Spending an hour or so writing doesn’t help that person I know show up more in the middle of the week in the middle of the day. I’m trying to figure that out.
Don’t get me wrong. Life still happens. Work needs done. Kids need attention. Laundry needs cleaned. Emails need returned. Life will always go on. Still, I’m beginning to wonder if there is a better way, a simpler way, a way to add deep breaths into the middle of my day and not treating life like a sprint to the finish line. My dad reminded me once that, Summer, there will come a day when all you will have is time. I know that day will come–when life allows for a few more breaths, but still. . . I know enough about life to know that today is the only day that is guaranteed.
So, while I may never learn the art of small talking, I do believe I can learn the art of living a more present life. Perhaps it’s a discipline? Perhaps it comes with becoming absolutely sick of my own voice? Or maybe, just maybe, it comes with really acknowledging and believing in the gift it is to live, as Mary Oliver says, this one wild and precious life.
I don’t have the answers, but for today, I’m going to start with breathing. Slowing my breaths. Taking a moment or maybe two, or perhaps three to feel the air enter my lungs. It’s a small step, but it’s something. This journey, it’s a marathon, this much I know. Maybe tomorrow the waves will have something to teach me.
This week. . .
Catching butterflies. . .
Lots of soccer. . .
Weather. . .
The Doodle. . .
Art. . .
The in-betweens. . .
On to breathing. . .