Let's start with a story.
One of my favorite things to do is get lost.
I like to try different routes to and from home. I like to see how far a road will go and then wind around until I find a road I kind of recognize. I usually search for these as an attitude adjuster.
Back roads are my place, when working to end an argument, clear my head, or reset.
I use these alternate routes as a way not to tune out but to reconnect with myself. To find a little bit of adventure and wonderment. I find solidarity and peace on those drives.
Everyone drives around the country side when they are upset, right?
There is this really cool backway to my house that I discovered one day when I just needed a break. I wasn’t sure where it would go but I was okay with finding out.
I just couldn’t force myself to drive through my medium sized town, full of the cons of both a small town and a big city. I didn't want to drive past Walmart, the endless row of terrible chain restaurants, or the mega casino that belongs in every medium sized town in Oklahoma.
I needed to check in. I needed a country road.
One day on my way home, I decided to go the Nature Way (that’s what we call it, the Nature Way). There is a nature reserve about five miles out of the way from the highway to my house. It is so quiet on the Nature Way road. I knew on that day I needed to get a little lost on this road.
As if it were a cue, I exited off the highway, rolled my windows down, and turned off my music so I could tune into nature.
I was literally in awe of how relaxed I felt just by getting off the highway and driving down a road full of no one.
I drove slow because animals on back roads are … brave. I decided to notice and count as many animals as I could.
I also took note of each vehicle and human I passed. As I did this I realized every time I counted an animal I was smiling.
Not like a grin, or competitive counting game smirk (you know that face you make when you’re winning at the ABC game on a road trip). But like a real life doe-eyed, Julia Roberts, SMILE! I mean I love (like love love) animals and all but this smile wasn’t an “I love animals” thing. This was a Present Moment Smile.
I saw squirrels, and chipmunks, cows, hummingbirds, horses, and lizards, and two peacocks! It was magical.
I counted over 50 animals in 3 miles.
I passed zero cars. ZERO!
I passed three people. Two were walking together and one was on a bike. I felt happy for them. They have this safe place to be, in nature, coexisting with all of these amazing animals.
At this moment, we were all at peace and at one with nature.
I have this amazing place to drive to and drive through. I can get into nature and just be.
This road is my place on good days and bad.
On a good day, the nature way reminds me that whatever it is that is so good, will soon pass. The forest, the animals, and Mother Nature will always be there, just as before, always changing, always present, doing exactly what they should be doing.
On harder days, the nature way reminds me that whatever is so awful, will also pass soon. No matter what my issue is, I find peace in knowing, I will get over whatever it is. I will laugh and smile very soon, and the world just simply won't end.
When I am able to be in the moment and watch the birds flitter about without a care in the world, I realize my "problems" aren’t really problems. Just as my "accomplishments" aren't really even mine either.
These are all just circumstances. My reaction to these circumstances determines my levels of stress, anxiety, worry.
We all worry about when a "good" thing will end. We feel and act on stress when "bad" things don't seem to go away.
Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. And it's all a choice.
Change your mind. That's the thing. Well really it's change your mindSET.
We can either choose enjoy the present moment, without judging if a situation is good or bad, (it just is), or we can suffer through life, feeling as if things are not as they "should" be, becoming victims of our circumstances.
I am connected in a way that makes me understand how choosing to living simply, slowing down, and being present is in fact the Nature Way.
I am, and you are, able to connect with the present moment at any time, in nature or in a crowd. Slow down, take a breath, just notice this moment and remember, “This too shall pass.”