It’s hard to sit still. To let life blur past, spinning on its axis while I remain in one spot; unmoving. It is normally not my modus operandi (m.o.) to sit still.
But sit still, I do.
As our family schedule transitioned from hectic end-of-school activities to the summer we, traditionally, jumped right into Father’s day, two of my three sons’ birthdays, the 4th of July and various camping excursions and vacations. We are always on the go and my most favorite pastime is sitting in the passenger seat as the yellow center lines on highways blur. The camera strap causes neck burn as I twist and turn snapping shots from my wide lens.
I laughed out loud as a line from Jamie Lee Curtis & Laura Cornell’s book, It’s Hard to Be Five, came to mind.
Most summers I leap from one hectic schedule to another, keeping busy with vacation itineraries. My hubby, the type B personality, is happy to stay put while I schedule various points of interest to sight see. His constant complaint that there is no rest or relaxation on vacation falls on deaf ears as the boys and I look for the next thing to visit; happily tired at the end of each day. Our summer months usually are filled with leisurely things to do. Things that are fun. But to some, leisurely means staying in one place and taking in the scenery.
Last year we traveled too often; neglecting things needed to be done at home: the garden, the garage, unplugged family time. We stayed busy to distract us from the normal, mundane every day but when all was said and done, it still awaited us when we returned.
The epiphany came recently. My constantly busy personality stems from a very boring and lonely childhood. Our sole trip, each summer, was a one week trip into the city from our rural town to visit family. Sometimes I would be asked to join trips with a friend; but most times I remained at home. As an only child I entertained myself with books, reading of faraway places. I often dreamed of what life would be like away from this small town and would get absorbed in music to pass the time. Each day seemed to remain the same. This was my life for the first seventeen years.
Once I moved away to university my life never stopped. I ran to catch up with the years I missed to pursue bigger and better things. I moved further away to pursue post grad studies across various state lines. On my very first cross country road trip; the boyfriend (soon-to-be fiance and hubs), shared the drive to help me move. My fond memories of road trips stemmed from our to and fro on Interstates 10, 20, 40 and many more. He and I have since traveled to many places near and far by plane and by car.
I glanced at Fakebook at the vacation pictures from friends as the hubs glanced over my shoulder. We both feel the pull to travel, to get on the road and go and as the long 4th of July weekend approached; we began to consider options. Our summer plans to Yellowstone/Grand Tetons were re-scheduled to next summer due to school related activities for our two teenage sons. This year, due to work and school related commitments, we have only traveled once.
I long for redwood trees and tall mountains, large bodies of water and purple clouds strewn across red and orange sunsets. I enviously glance at other friends’ scenic outdoor pictures and pull up the gallery of my own. But pictures don’t do the outdoors justice. I need to be out there too. I am counting the days until we meet my childhood girlfriend and her family for camping; a trip that is becoming an annual outing for us both. We come from the same place.
I continue to sit still.
I purposely chose to remain home for the first part of the summer. Why? To decompress. To adjust. With most social obligations on hiatus, I have chosen to find my inner introvert. To fill my time and space with nothing but my own breath and thoughts. The silence is deafening and I struggle to sit with it. To let it wrap itself around me; like a peaceful, comfortable item of clothing.
I’m trying this one on for size this summer. And it is hard. I am easily distracted and default to complacency.
In my mind I see the outdoor places I long to be. Sunsets on lava rocks; waves rolling to the shoreline. Boulders in rivers as my sons and dog swim in the cold flowing waters. High vistas spanning miles of natural landscape. I center these things in my mind for brief moments and open my eyes to where I am at the present moment. And I sit still. I have always told myself that if only I was: (fill in the blank) that all things would be better. But really, I need to clear that mental block.
I. am. here. Enjoy where I am right now. There are too many if onlys and too little nows. These past years I’ve lived my life in the rear view instead of the present moment.
I move from one room to another in my home, following the sun with a book in hand. I sit on warm concrete with a towel, the sun filtering through my hat. I put away dishes and focus on the scenery of my yard instead of the cracked tile that sits nearby. I soften my gaze to see the green plants out my kitchen window. The ones that create my landscape; clearing mental images of outdoor vistas of past trips. Instead I evoke the feelings of gratitude and appreciation from these memories to the present ones.
This mental work makes all the difference. I don’t have to travel to other places, rely on external people or things to bring me happiness or to affirm who I am. Instead of distracting myself with itineraries and busy work I sit still and do my mental work. I am grateful for right now.
My need to move is based on not dealing with things not dealt with. I now do the simple tasks to fix these little things in my every day so that each moment isn’t based on distraction, but interaction. With my hubby. With my kids. With my immediate surroundings. But most importantly, with myself.
To be true to others, you must take the time to discover your own truths. Until then, you do not live authentically.
My sons are amazed at my silence this summer. I work on little things: cleaning closets, organizing paperwork, understanding finances. I water gardens and clean yards. I work on my own inner struggles and discontent to communicate them with my spouse as we journey this midlife path together and beyond. I make time to interact with my ever growing sons who continue to seek their own spaces and discover who they are.
In the silence I am finally listening to the beat within that has always pushed me forward. We all have our own rhythms and without all the noise, I can finally hear them once again.
I am trusting my body cues to tell me when I’m hungry, when I need activity. I find myself yearning to be outdoors on predawn jogs and late evening swims. There is no magic program or elixir to perfect health. If everything is in balance (portion control vs. activity) it works out on its own.
I surrender control. My successes, my failures. My needs and my wants. I used to think I could control these things and get riled up. I have no control over these things and can choose to not let them control me. I am learning to accept things as they are and walk the path that fits who I am.
To dwell on the things not dealt with. The dramas that unfold in family, social groups and organizations. To laugh, to cry, to shout. To find my inner introvert and look within; to reflect in solitary silence and figure out how to progress forward or if not, to let it go.
In the silence the words emerge, the inner writer finding solace in them. I read books, once again, of far away places. I unexpectedly found a novel that filled my desires to travel while still sitting still. I escaped to Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion and many places in-between and gained insight on the mental work I continually push through. I don’t need to be on the move searching for answers to my queries. In fact, I think I know them and finally made the time to actually sit and listen to them. They have been with me all along and this summer, I don’t need to travel far to appreciate my destination.
I am here sitting still. I have already arrived.