On Saturday mornings, the dog and I have a routine. We head out to the market for whatever goodies I need at home, plus my coffee and his dog treat. Then we go down by the river for our walk. In the summer, we go elsewhere but in winter, we head to the river.
When you do something repeatedly, you get to see more than just the individual experience. You get to see what it is like to repeat an experience, and thus look at the ways in which the same routine changes as a result of time and, in this case, the passage of the seasons. I have been deeply moved by our walks by the river, as I have melted into the landscape. Some mornings, we were the first to make prints on new snow. Some mornings, we crunched across snow that many others had crossed before. Most of my Saturdays this winter of 2012 have been gray days, and while I would often dismiss a gray day from my everyday working life (“Oh, another cloudy day…”) when I am at the river I SEE differently. I can see that a gray day means many shades of gray, and even brown and green and pink and blue, too. I can see that the apparent quiet of the river, frozen and quiescent, is but a mask. When I take time to stop running, to stop resisting what is, to just be present to what is present, then everything changes.
On this particular March Saturday, the river was open in the middle but there was still ice from the shore. The crusty snow was immutable, or so it appeared. I slipped and slid, and suddenly the gray day opened up to sunshine. Pulled by some impulse to just open to that sunshine, I sat on a flat little icy patch, legs out in front on me, face to the sun. The dog freaked, of course, and had to lick and poke his nose and wondered what I was doing, but he settled in to my rhythm and then left to go sniff something more interesting. I sat. I sat, and felt the sunlight. Over time, I felt the cold leaking through my snowpants. I saw the open water, and the ice with the deep fissures that reflected last week’s thawing temperatures. My thoughts slowed, my senses opened, and I stopped wanting things to be different than they are. I just sat with what was there, inside me and outside me.
After awhile, I noticed sounds and looked off to my left. On the open water in the middle of the river, there were birds. I wanted to name them, so I thought perhaps cormorants, but there was no real need to have a name for them. Then I heard the cracking; soft, subtle, irregular and infrequent. I saw myself wanting an explanation for that cracking. Oh, of course, the sun is softening the ice. I noticed then that chunks of the solid stuff were breaking off and floating into the open water and twice, I saw chunks turn and then disappear. My mind questioned this: ice that sinks? But because I am just taking whatever is happening, I have the peace inside to just let my perceptions be my perceptions. I don’t have to be right. I don’t have to be wrong.
After some time, I became aware of an impulse to move, to get up. I waited until I knew more about it, and found that my backside and legs were becoming uncomfortably cold, I needed to pee, and I was hungry. That was enough information for me, so I got up, and noticed that my inner space was peaceful, and open and that I needed to move, to pee, and to eat. I was profoundly touched by the shift in my sense of myself and the space I was inhabiting. I was free and open and there was space in my body and in my mind. And I needed to move, to pee, and to eat. The dog, of course, became ecstatic when I moved. Finally! you could almost read his doggy mind. We’re finally going to do something interesting!
But of course we didn’t. We wandered off to the car, with my empty coffee cup and crumbs of his dog treat, and drove off into real life. But I had a sense that I would keep that moment, or those moments, no matter what. No matter what happened later that day, or that week, or ever, really, I will always have had those moments of peacefulness and acceptance. Even when I get caught up in busyness or overthinking or analysis or emotional storms, I will have had those moments. They are now part of my experience.
When have you dropped the resistance? What have you found?