Image by National Audubon Society
“Being brave said the firefighter, the last of the boys mentors, doesn’t mean never being afraid. There’s no such thing as never being scared. Being brave means knowing your fear, even being friends with your fear. You want it to tell you when to push past it and go on ahead, when to hold its hand and walk side by side, or when you are better off following, walking in its footsteps.”Excerpted from “A House Among the Trees” by Julia Glass
They were walking slowly with poles in hand, the husband watching that his wife could navigate the hill. Seeing their slow and somewhat shaky pace on a very narrow trail I cut across the grassy slope, which was much steeper, so that I could be ahead of them and then went on my way leaving them behind.
A bit later they were heading towards me on the trail and I was able to see more clearly the shirt that the woman wore which said in big bold letters “JUST DO IT!”. Saying good afternoon I inquired about the shirt by asking “do what?” and in her strained voice she said “exercise”. I nodded my assent with a smile and went on my way.
Reflecting on this very brief interaction I realized that it was most likely vitally important that she do the exercise for reasons that were important to her, essential to keeping mobile and increasing strength and endurance in the face of whatever her health challenge was.
Often going days or weeks without considering how fortunate I am to have mobility, so I could take that shortcut across the steeper part of the grassy slope, it struck me. I was in “doing it” mode.
Thoughts of whom I might meet on the trail next, or what my agenda was for the day filtered through as I walked along the familiar route. Yes, I appreciated natures Spring beauty yet I wasn’t being fully with it in those moments.
As we age we experience physical set backs and limitations. Most of us have experienced this by now. For some it is a major challenge that completely disrupts everyday life, and for others something to accept, let go into, and then explore possibility.
My personal fear is not “death” but instead having to be taken care of because of physical or mental limitations. Having independence somehow curtailed.
Do I know that fear? Can I make friends with it?
Yet the times I have been “limited” because of injury or illness have been my greatest teachers. Certainly not comfortable in many ways and often times scary, but spaces for learning, increased awareness and emerging possibility.
I ask the question now of myself and you the reader. What if “just do it” became “just be it”? A devotion to, and acceptance of, being fully present in as many of our life moments as possible.
By fully inhabiting the body and the experiences we have been given..
I am well aware that the “me” I have depended on waking up to every morning may one day be replaced – like an overnight abduction – of what I have always been.
If we are lucky enough to be able to explore the territory of sliding from “doing” to “being” within a simpler life in our elder years it can become a regular practice of awareness in the everyday moments of life. Try on the simple exercise below:
Take a look at the hummingbird with the flowers at the top of this page. Just Do It.
What did you see? How would you describe the image to someone else?
Now BE the hummingbird and flowers as you gaze at them. BREATHE….
Did you have a different experience?
Did you become the hummingbird with wings whirring in figure eights 80 times per second, heart beating at over 1200 beats per minute?
Could you taste the sweet nectar deep into the throat of the flower?
Were you aware of the natural instinct that attracted you to that particular flower?
Did you melt into the vibrancy of the colors?
Where are you innately guided next?
Patterned mind of “doing” is found in what seems like an endless series of actions or tasks to be taken. Is it possible to interrupt that cultural and survival narrative and land in the spaciousness of simply being?
If we are fortunate to have the freedom to choose, the answer is yes….
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