Sun and Shade.
I taught my class for the day and decided I had some time for the outdoors. Was it too hot? I decided no. I ventured out to Town Lake, put on my shades, a hat and started walking. I emerged onto Town Lake bridge and quickly felt the heat of the unrelenting sun. Perhaps I was wrong, nonetheless, I continued my slow paced walk. My eyes set toward the cool, blue lake for moments, only to return to the feeling of heat rising, perspiration forming. Indeed, it was a hot day.
Eventually I found my way onto the dirt trail. My mind was fixated on the heat for sometime before I could recognize the periods of relief. I began to feel the lightness of the breeze, the softness of the shade under the trees. I noticed the shimmering of the water at a distance. The heat became less stifling. I began to feel this play of warm and cool, sun and shade, both coexisting together. I took relief in one, allowing me to navigate more skillfully through the other. The walk took on a new, interesting and textured flavor. Even as I walked through the direct heat of the sun, now I could feel the presence of the breeze. I eventually found a shady spot under a tree. I enjoyed the respite, allowing it to touch my body, my mind, my breath.
Whether in the heat of the moment, the day or the world, it is so important to recognize the momentary periods of relief. In fact, it is not selfish. It is vital. Without it, life can become unsustainable and unstable. Perhaps these moments of relief are all around us, all the time, only requiring the slightest shift of attention. As I sat a while, my mind and heart began to open. I began to recognize the small moments of kindness I had been offered throughout the morning in various ways: a brief, yet meaningful exchange of words, a simple willingness to pause for eyes to meet, a warm hug. I had received the relief of kindness in many ways. It had filled me then and even more so now that I slowed down enough to acknowledge it.
Feeling nourished, I went on to take some breath and movement. At one point, I attempted fore-arm stand only to fall out. I laughed and tried again, only to fall a second time. Kindness emerged through laughter. I attempted one last time. My legs lifted, feeling almost stable. I pressed my fore-arms to the earth and breathed. And then, all of sudden, with no warning, I felt sensations: warm, mushy, wet and fleshy. Yes, it was a dog licking any part of me that it could. I fell, only to meet the eyes of this sweet, slobbering dog that was wanting to give and receive a little love. Normally, I might not have appreciated the moment so much, but today I could only smile. The owner rushed toward me apologizing, but apologies were not necessary.
More often than not, life is offering us periods of relief, a cooling down, even through the times that feel difficult. We just have to slow down enough to feel it. When we do, we can then navigate through the heat, the challenge with a little more grace. We can trust that all is well and good even amidst difficulty. There is room to include both, and in that widening space, wisdom is sure to surface.
I could name many, but thank you to Marissa, Monte, Dana, Maggie, Billy and a sweet, slobbering dog for offering kindness, even if you did not know you were. I hope that you might feel my gratitude.