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AWAKENING TO SEE THE BEAUTY OF LIFE
“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” Thornton Wilder
Do you often feel overwhelmed by what you need to do? Do you run your life or does your life run you? Are you giving attention to those people or activities you most value?
Nature Enriches Our Spirits
I try to schedule a hike once a week during the summer because I feel such a strong need to be out in nature. It calms and connects me with Spirit in a deep way. It’s also a great way to connect with people who also love nature, and since my main hiking buddy was away most of the summer, I enjoyed meeting more hikers.
It’s taken a while to find the right group. When I first moved to the mountains, the first group I hiked with used hiking as an aerobic activity and went so fast it was impossible to enjoy the scenery and plant life. Another group only went on lengthy, challenging hikes. Finally I found a group that fit my needs, but these hikers also move too fast for me at times.
When I hike, I want to be able to see what is along the trail: the flowers, mushrooms, moss, knarled branches, bright leaves, and small crawling creatures (as long as they don’t rattle). I want to be engaged with what is around me: feel the moisture, smell the scents, examine the textures. The stimulation of hiking through such an extremely bio-diverse area can be intoxicating. I love getting drunk on its beauty.
Missing Pleasure Through Haste
Soren Kierkegaard said, “Most people pursue pleasure with such breathless haste they hurry right past it.” Have you ever been walking briskly past an art gallery or clothing store, saw a flash of something colorful, but you were half a block away before you could stop yourself to go back and see what it was that you only partly saw? Think about how much time we could save if we would slow down and see what was before us without having to backtrack.
In our society, it isn’t just the speed with which we pursue pleasure that limits the pleasure in our lives; it’s the speed with which we do everything. In many instances, we have committed to more than we can handle well. We want to please everyone, help everyone, experience everything, and on top of that, time is literally speeding up. We are now experiencing in one year what we used to experience in five years. We think the solution to this problem is to hurry more. It isn’t.
The Pleasure of Being in the Moment
How would we feel if we each took fifteen minutes a day to immerse ourselves in something we found truly pleasurable? What if we took the time to really touch our partners fully aware of that touch? What if we focused on the pleasurable taste, color and texture of each bite we eat? What if, instead of rushing through the book we’re reading, we let ourselves merge with the delicious cadence and imagery of the words?
Rushing all the time doesn’t feel like living to me, and I’m not alone because several friends have made the same comment lately—they just need more time to be and less time to do. It’s pretty clear that Spirit is trying to teach me how to do this because invariably when I start whizzing around the house at a high speed, I always trip over a chair, stab my thigh on the corner of a table, or spill a pitcher of water. If I don’t have sense enough to slow down, life will do it for me.
Finding Spiritual Treasures in Our Hearts
To become more conscious, we need to notice when we feel stressed, angry, overwhelmed, or exhausted. We need to simply stop, take a breath, go to our heart centers and feel who we are. We need to look around us for the beauty we may have missed. What’s more important, seeing your child’s smile or cleaning the house? When we move too fast all the time, we become insensitive. Anything that gets in the way of our getting the “work” done gets pushed aside, and if that includes people we love, that’s a tragedy.
As Thornton Wilder reminds us, we aren’t really alive unless, at the heart level, we are conscious of our “treasures.” We have to pay attention and strip away the distractions. It means we have to leave the party or race track, stop using the alcohol and drugs to give us the high our pleasure-loving selves pursue, and get in touch with what is deep and worthwhile where the deepest pleasures of love, peace and joy reside. It means we have to give up our obsession with achievement, our need to always be right, and our desire to please everyone. We have to take time to find our centers, linger in the heart to see what our real treasure is, and prioritize our lives so we have the time to see what really matters.
© 2012 Georganne Spruce ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5