I hope you’re doing well and staying safe. It’s difficult to articulate the weight of challenges we continue to see both in the United States and around the world, so I won’t endeavor to try. But we can take solace in the positive direction of things — COVID vaccines have begun distribution, the United States is going to have a new President in less than a week, and a restored Senate balance will now give the next President a chance to actually implement major change. We’re still in stormy seas, but deep within the dark clouds a sliver of sunlight breaks through. Until the weather improves, one of the best things we can do for ourselves is build healthy habits.
One habit I deeply cherish is taking long walks. I’ve been taking them for years, and cannot recommend them enough. Even short 15 minute walks can make a big difference to your day. Their value has only increased during these extended lockdowns. I relish the opportunity to go outside, and always make an effort to pause and inhale the cold, fresh air with slow, deep breaths.
There are moments when the wind is calm, the birds’ chorus is in intermission, and stillness fills the air. I start to lose myself to my surroundings. I shed the skin of my thoughts and pull on the camouflage of nature. I become part of the background. Soon, it becomes clear that I was never in the foreground to begin with. The illusion of my individuality, my separate Self was just that: an illusion. I was never apart from it, always a part of it. I look upon myself and see a single brushstroke on an infinite painting. My steps become lighter knowing that if I fall, the canvas will catch me.
We often wonder if we deserve the luxury of a walk without purpose. Do we have time for such things, given the pressures of life? Even if we allow them, we feel an urge to turn them into productive acts — power-walking to burn calories, or listening to self-help podcasts on 3X speed.
But there is no need to justify taking a walk. A walk, on its own, is enough.
And so are you.
Take a little walk for yourself, dear friend!
You deserve it.
Today’s edition features a new essay, Last Minute Circus, on the thrilling pain of procrastination. If you prefer, you can read this essay on my blog.
It’s midnight. Instead of sleeping, I’m writing.
I have no one to blame but myself — I put this off all week long.
I hate this.
It’s always the same routine. I take shelter behind my shield of excuses. I dread and deflate, whine and cry, obsess and protest, moan and groan…
I want to do it. But I won’t let myself.
Until, finally, exhausted by my own resistance, I relent.
I lift the weight.
I write the word.
I draw the picture.
I do the thing.
I do it again. And again. It seems so easy now.
I surf the wave of my momentum. My hair dances in the wind. I’m riding high.
I love this.
Looking down from my palace of flow, I wonder: “Why would I ever resist coming here?”
I realize that a part of me enjoys the drama of procrastination. I revel in the thrill of pulling it off at the last minute. The longer the delay, the greater the reward.
I am the villain, the hero, and the audience in my own Last Minute Circus.
The next evening, I’m in the ring again.
New day, same old play. I’m booked for life.
I hear the bells for curtain call. Like clockwork, he appears beside me. My longtime friend, my lifetime foe: Me.
And the show goes on.
I’ll leave you with a parting thought that came to me the other day, as I sat in my back yard watching the leaves fall:
When you see a leaf fall from a tree,
Was it a once-in-a-lifetime event (for that leaf will never live again)?
Or was it meaningless (for the tree has thousands more)?
You choose your life, one leaf at a time.
Will you fill it with the mundane, or with miracles?
Until next time,