Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Breeze Easy

I prefer the treadmill. When it comes to running, I like numbers – setting goals that I can measure. But this particular morning, I awoke to a different tune. There was something in the air, a clarity that had been missing for the past few days. The air smelled fresh, clean, inviting. It had been raining for the last 72 hours or so and the storms had left a pleasing mist behind.
            I opened the patio door and filled my lungs completely, breathing out gently, savoring the breath. The air was sweet with morning dew and I could see the sun beginning to rise over the hill. ‘It’s going to be a beautiful day,’ I said to myself as I changed into the usual spandex and cotton-t.
            I rather enjoy the rain – the pitter-patter sounds on the windows, the fresh, distinct scent. But after several days of nothing but gray skies and wet socks, I find myself getting a little depressed. It’s startling how much the weather can affect a person and happily today it was affecting me in a beautiful and much needed way.
            I slipped on my running shoes and set my ipod to coast as I headed out, ready to take on the world. The air was welcoming – fresh with a rejuvenating newness. The temperature was absolutely faultless, perfectly cool. The hill was breathtaking with the colors of dawning light. And I, well I was in heaven.
 I took off in a comfortable jog and headed towards the gardens, a superb addition to an already beautiful complex. I could feel the pavement beneath my feet, the slight crunch of asphalt announcing my every stride. The air breezed past my limbs, streamed through my hair tossing blonde strands behind me like streamers. The gardens ahead were stunning in the morning light – dew glistening atop vibrant green leaves, radiant fuchsia petals dancing merrily in the breeze. It was a wonderland of color and light as if I were heading straight into the heart of a prism, surrounded by beauty in its purest form.
My pace quickened as I found my stride, steadily galloping along the winding path, avoiding puddles and the occasional wind-blown branches. The sun was lush upon my face, a lingering tingling sensation beginning to form.
I passed through the lush undergrowth, taking in my surroundings with supreme gratitude, feeling a warm satisfaction grow within me. My heart raced as I headed up the hill, my thighs burning deeply against the sudden incline. The heat began to climb, flushing my cheeks as the blood pulsed, the follicles on my arms rising against the cool air.
 It had been some time since I’d run against such an incline and my body had no inhibitions in reminding me of this. My lungs began to burn as my breath exchanged its steady flow for a rapid, more rigorous pace. My legs ached and my core shouted against the walls of my obliques, straining to maintain stride with my pumping arms. I could see the top of the hill ahead, crowning majestically in the foreground of the now visible sun. ‘You can do it,’ I repeated in my head, ‘You can do it.’
I pushed my muscles to their max, willing my limbs to work in tandem, pulling strength from wherever I could muster it. I set my eyes on the goal ahead of me, now almost in reach, and gave one final, great push, every fiber of my being working in perfect harmony. Just as I thought I might lose the only ounce of power I had left, I realized I was already there.
I felt the pavement beneath me smooth over as it leveled into the most beautiful plain I’d ever seen. The racing in my heart began to slow as I headed into the sunshine, warmth surrounding me like a favorite blanket. My muscles began to relax as I slowed to a gentle jog, breathing in the victory, filling my lungs with the sweetest of air. As I rounded the corner and headed for home, I was greeted by the most wonderful breeze, blowing ever so smoothly. It felt as if the breeze were blowing straight through me, reaching every molecule in my body, leaving me with a most serene sense of calm.
I slowed to a walk, allowing my muscles to relax and take in this generous gift. I closed my eyes as a smile spread wide across my face and I thanked God for this moment. I had no expectations as I’d left my apartment this morning, no idea that such an amazing moment was waiting for me to reach out and make it mine. Any trace of ill-mood remaining had been obliterated and was replaced by a superb calm, filled with a bright light radiating a sense of optimism and serenity. I nestled this peace within me as I headed to the shower, eager to wash away these past few days and head into a new week fresh and energized, ready for whatever life had in store.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Bright Yellow Package

I sat on my couch last night, feet propped comfortably on the coffee table, blanket nestled cozily about me. As I prepared for the first of many nighttime comedy talk shows, my thoughts were interrupted by the latest rhythmic techno beat blaring loudly from my cell. I answered cheerfully, greeted in return by the voice of a very fragile and worried friend in desperate need of a shoulder to cry on.
I listened as she carried on about a dispute at work – the usual power struggle between ranks – waiting intently for some of the steam to roll off. When asked for my opinion, I simply asked her to place herself in the shoes of the appointed enemy. I shared my perspective as an outsider, doing my best to articulate my thoughts from both ends of the spectrum in hopes of finding a middle ground between the two.
When I’d finished, I found that I was responded to with absolute silence. I waited a moment until the sound of a sigh fluttered through the speaker. “How do you do it?” she asked quite emphatically. 
Taken aback, I replied uncertainly, “Do what?”
“You know. Find the good in everyone. Sometimes it drives me absolutely bonkers. You know, not everyone is a good person. Some people really are just douchebags,” she laughed.
“Oh I suppose they can be. I think everyone has at least a little good in them, though. I like to think that when I put out a positive vibe, people respond to it, and usually I’m right.”
“I can hear you smiling missy,” she said grittily, though clearly laughing herself. She sighed again. “Though, I suppose I could use a little of that positive energy myself, huh?”
“How ‘bout I send some UPS Express first thing in the morning?”
“I suppose that will have to do. I’ll keep my eyes pealed.”
“Good. It’ll be the bright yellow package inscribed ‘I love you,’ with a big bow of course.”
“Of course.”
As I hung up the phone, it occurred to me that I do have a habit of believing that everyone has kindness somewhere inside. I suppose this position could seem a little irritating to those who see the world with a bit more scrutiny. Sure, I have my moments, but I find that overall this belief has made my life a thing of beauty.
I have, at times, had perfect strangers tell me that I am an extraordinary person for believing in them, for sharing the smallest piece of kindness. Although touched by such compliments, I do not believe that my life is any more extraordinary than the next. Every life has beauty within it. Every life is filled with inspiration each and every day. The only difference is that I choose to see the wonder in my life. My eyes are open wide each day, my heart ready to encompass the passion that is awaiting it.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Rainbow Night

Reds flashing
Fiery bright
Yellows illuminating
Lighting the night
Blues soft as feathers
Crystalline in hue
Amid greens dancing wildly
Flickering one, two.

Purples as brilliant
As dusk feeding night
Pinks crimson gold
Lift off, taking flight

A gentle twist here
And a turnabout there
The magic lingers on
A hushed brilliance in the air.

Colors dance
Swirling in song
A rhythm so pure
 So humble , so strong.
So wrong in its erratic
Spell-binding tune
So right in its purity
A divinity, a muse.

A rich eloquence
As cannot be repeated
I find colors thereafter
Somewhat shy and depleted.

To what do I owe
This pleasurable sight?
These colors so rich
So pure in the night
The cuts of the stone
So smooth and so right
A perfect catapult
To shape, to cast light

The rhythm will slow
The beat start to fade
But the colors
The colors!
The colors will stay
They’ll slow to a waltz
A soft dance they’ll do
Flicking and fleeting
A mild pulse ‘round the room

All will be silent

All will be still

A hibernation of whimsy

Of fancy, of thrill.

Rest now young colors

So sprightly 

So bright

Tomorrow’s a new day

To inspire, to make light.


        If only we could be more “childlike” in our adult lives. Surely, we would find inspiration in each and every day.


        I was lounging on a grassy hill, soaking up the sunshine flooding through the breaks in the trees. Eyes shut, fluttering slightly against the occasional breeze; allowing only sound, smell, and feeling to affect me amid a calm blackness. Birds chirping. Leaves rustling. Families running and playing. Grills smoking. Pollen floating aimlessly on the coastal air. All was well within my soul (as an old hymnal might describe it).

         I opened my eyes to find a small child playing with a stick a few yards beyond my reach. He giggled as he knocked apart puffy dandelions, chasing the flyaway seedlings through the air. He danced around merrily, waving his stick to an imaginary beat. I couldn’t help but smile to myself, when suddenly he stopped abruptly and fell to his knees. I perched up on my fingertips, ready to run to his rescue, when I realized he wasn’t hurt, but rather was examining something in the grass. I squinted to see what he was investigating, but couldn’t quite make it out. Something furry? Small, but large enough to protrude from the uncut grass.

        It was then that his mother spotted him and came running to his side. She yanked him angrily from the grass and swatted him, exclaiming that he was, “never to touch dead animals ever again!” He wriggled from her grasp and fell to the ground weeping. To my astonishment, his reaction was not in reply to her hand, but rather to being pulled away from the lifeless creature lying beside him. Against her demand, he cradled the bird in his tiny hands and held it for his mother to see. Sunlight illuminated his cheeks; a prism of tears, begging for her mercy and understanding.  His eyes, the color of melting chocolate, stared up at her - willing her to see the helplessness, to recognize the sadness that was so evident to him.

        “Is he sleeping like grandpa?” asked the little boy. She softened and knelt beside him, placing her hand on his back. She smiled warmly and replied, “Yes, baby, he’s sleeping.”

“How come he’s on the ground, then? Why is he not in a big box like grandpa?”
            She did her best to explain the difference between a person passing and an animal. Unconvinced, the child demanded that they give the bird (whom he had now named ‘Fred’) a proper funeral. Recognizing the seriousness of the situation to her kindergartener, she agreed to give Fred a sincere burial (of course, only if they followed the necessary sanitation rules). She produced an empty grocery bag from their picnic and gathered Fred’s tiny body. After dousing her son’s hands with sanitizer, they packed up the rest of their belonging and headed to the car, plastic bag in tow. The boy held the bag ever so gently, as not to disturb Fred’s ‘sleeping,’ as his mother buckled him up for the trip home.
           As they drove away, I noticed the boy’s stick left behind. Abandoned for a greater cause, it lay resting in the grass ahead of me. I picked it up and headed in my own direction of home, observing the other families along the way. Grills smoking. Pollen floating aimlessly on the coastal air. Birds chirping. I felt a slight pang in my heart, beveled by an outline of hope knowing that good is still around me. We often lose sight of this deeper connection to the world and sometimes it takes the heart of a child, a vessel of innocence, to remind us of this goodness and love.

 Open your hearts and minds as you travel the road of life - you never know what sticks you might pick up along the way.

The Little Things

If you were to base your view of the world simply on the news streaming from your television every day, there’s probably a good chance that you have a stockpile of antidepressants in your medicine cabinet. With all of the destruction, hate crimes, murders, financial debacles, natural disasters and pure devastation going on all around us (often not too far from home), it can sometimes seem impossible to find an ounce of the world that’s worth savoring or being thankful for.
I believe that the world is sick, sick with poverty and hate and pollution; but I also believe that there is hope and it rests within the beauty and love that already exists; we just have to open to seeing and finding value in it. Much work needs to done to get our planet in order, and thankfully many strides have already been taken. It is not a feat capable of success over night, but it is also not a losing battle. It takes passion and sacrifice to heal the world. I have faith in the generations of the world today and those generations to come. I have faith that there will still be a world that my grandchildren will find worth living for. And I have faith that in the midst of the battles we face every day, there is always something to be thankful for, something to make you stop, take a deep breath, and know that God is good.
This is the focus I choose to have in life - to center my self in the beauty of nature and humanity that is so often overlooked. It is the “little things” that make a difference, because without them we would all undoubtedly be institutionalized. It is these little joys and tiny rays of sunshine that put smiles on our faces and warmth in our hearts. It is these beautiful moments that keep us going, our faces aimed at the light.
I believe that the world is filled with inspiration; we just have to be open enough to see it, to feel it all around us. We cannot see with our eyes shut. We cannot accept with our minds locked. We cannot feel with our hearts sewn closed. Inspiration fills the air every second of the day, but it cannot make an impact within us if we keep our doors closed. Air out those cobwebs in your brain and release those butterflies from your heart. Open wide your shutters and “let the sun shine in,” because it is a beautiful day.