Hurricane Sandy’s heading toward us and it’s rush, rush, rush.
Stock up. Clear the storm drains. Bring in firewood. Find the transistor radio and flashlights. Replace the batteries. Can’t find the right batteries. Back to the store for more batteries. And whatever bread is left on the shelf. Just in case. Check the news. Check the radar. Yell at the kids to stop shouting out every time one of their friends announces via Facebook that their school is closed for the day.
The list goes on and on. And we are in our default mode: constant movement. Always on, always connected, always thinking, always doing, always talking. Too busy to face reality. Because we don’t want to face reality.
We can fill our cupboards but we can’t stop Sandy’s track. We can close our schools and watch the special reports on the news every fifteen minutes but we can’t know whether Sandy suddenly will change course and head directly at us or away from us before she hits land.
If we stop moving, stop doing all the stuff we’re doing, we’ll have to feel what it feels like to be in a state of limbo. Will it hit hard? That’s unclear. Will we be in danger? Also unclear. Will we be able to keep ourselves and our families and our friends out of harm’s way? Hope so, but we have no idea.
At some point, when we’ve done everything we can think of, when we are sick of constantly checking the slow-moving radar, when we’ve driven our kids to their friend’s houses so they can wake up and weather the storm without us while eating all the Halloween candy already purchased despite the probability that it will be pouring rain on October 31st, we will have no choice but to stop.
And this is when we can take advantage of something incredibly simple but extraordinarily difficult. We can be still. We can breathe in and breathe out. No need to do any fancy yoga poses or pranayama breathing. Just sit down or lay down or walk or stand and bring air into your body and let air out.
Pet the dog. Make yourself a cup of tea or a glass of wine. Listen to music you love. Curl up under an afghan by the fire. Read that novel that you keep meaning to read but end up closing your eyes and falling asleep each night before you make it through a couple of pages. Do a puzzle on the dining room table. Draw. Dance. Daydream. Go up to bed early. With your spouse.
An amazing thing happens when you stop focusing on getting things done to prepare for what might be: you get to enjoy your life in the moment. You suddenly have time to smile, to see, to feel, to be.
There are many people I know who are uncomfortable with being still (hi honey!) but that discomfort is based on the cultural belief that we are at our best when we’re getting things done.
With the storm approaching, the governor warning people to stay put during the storm, you get to give this zen thing a try, even if you don’t believe it is who you are. But the thing about zen is that it is not really about defining you. It is about allowing yourself the freedom to be in the flow of the universe, about delighting in the basic miracle of life itself.
I know that when it is put in front of me directly I will always choose to live now over planning for living later. That doesn’t mean not caring about the future. What it means is that when the future becomes my now, I will be able to enjoy it rather than waste all of my energy planning for what comes next.
How about you? What will you choose?
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