The morning unfolds gently, quietly, slowly – and I am at home, not camping. I woke in the comfort of my bed, rather than waking in agony, stiff, and struggling to get my bones up off the ground. I have entirely deviated from any semblance of planning for the weekend – and I am also entirely okay with that; what I need from me with this time can be had right here, and figuring out how to get it here at home is a worthy endeavor, itself.

Although I was packed up and ready for my weekend in the trees, Thursday quickly went sideways once I confirmed that literally every reservable tent camping space within a 3 hour drive had been reserved. Frustrated by the outcome of my own lack of advance planning, I sat down with my thoughts to get my bearings, and check traffic for the route to the state park I was most inclined to drive to, figuring I might take my chances on a non-reservable space still being available so close to a choice summer camping weekend. The traffic was reported to be terrible (making a 45 minute drive nearly 2 hours). I became more fully aware of how much pain I was in. Camping seemed much less appealing than it had only days before.

Cats have a good idea what to do with their leisure time.

Cats have a good idea what to do with their leisure time.

Adulthood does have one clear advantage over childhood, and although I capitalize on it less often than I could, I sure did on Thursday – I straight up owned being adult, and grabbed hold of the “I can do whatever I want” opportunity. I revisited my entire weekend plan, over a very tasty cup of coffee – no bed time – and decided on a series of day hikes fairly nearby, ones that are difficult to reach on public transit (taking advantage of having my traveling partner’s car for the weekend). I considered other things that appeal to me, that I can’t easily do most weekends (due to the limitation of not having a car, myself), and also made plans to visit favorite local places that are generally just out of reach.

My Thursday evening was very relaxed, and focused on caring for myself, and indulging simple pleasures. I turned off the technology, even my phone. I put the stereo on sounds of rainfall – hours of it that I have recorded myself over the years, drowning out the sounds of the world outside as well as I could. It was, after all, the stillness that I was seeking most aggressively with this time… wait… what? Something nagged at me, even then…

There is something about being alone out in the trees, walking, awake, aware, and on my own journey.

There is something about being alone out in the trees, walking, awake, aware, and on my own journey.

Friday was very pleasant. My long hike on the trails through Tryon Creek Park was quite lovely, and refreshing, and…lovely. I could still hear the sounds of traffic with every step, and never did escape the continuous awareness of the presence of humanity. Was that what I was looking for? If so – did I understand how unrealistic a goal it was? (Rather like chasing ‘happily ever after’.) I felt a subtle aggravation with the experience, that coexisted with the pleasure of walking among the trees, along the creek, on paths that twisted, turned, climbed, dropped, and winded among trees of surprising age, and the lush dense greens of forest that I definitely had been seeking for comfort and nourishment.

This is my journey. Your results may vary.

This is my journey. Your results may vary.

I took both perspectives on the experience home with me. A bite of lunch, and a cup of coffee later and I was off again – headed down the road to where there are lovely roses to be had; it was on my mind to restore my patio garden to its own lushness, after weeks of sweltering heat, and to replace roses that had been carelessly lost more than a year ago, during a winter storm when I was out of town. Several of my favorite miniature roses in containers, that I had brought with me when I moved in, had died. I don’t think anyone else noticed, or cared, but it bothered me greatly and I missed them here at Number 27. I spent Friday afternoon gardening – another activity I find soothing, uplifting, and restoring. Friday was quite wonderful.

“The Sorcerer” – selected for my garden as an homage to love’s magic in my life.

Evening came, and that was when the various sensations, ideas, and perspectives collided while I was meditating; I was seeking stillness by running from the noise. It was a needed ‘aha!’ moment. I was ‘filling my time’ instead of actually embracing the possible stillness. It’s an easy mistake to make, but ineffective; I take myself with me everywhere I go. If the stillness I seek would be within, then the noise I am attempting to escape may similarly be within me; running won’t get me very far from myself. It wasn’t that the time was wasted, or that the investment in self-care and things I enjoy is a mistake; I enjoyed my time, and it was well-spent – but it wasn’t going to get me any closer to the stillness I know I am needing.

This morning I woke early, and returned to sleep. It’s not possible to over-state the value of adequate rest. When I woke, I didn’t turn on the computer, the stereo, or the noise of the world. I showered in mindful silence, feeling the sensations, and being present. I took my time with my morning yoga, being patient with myself, and focused on the moment and each movement. I made my coffee with great care, and without wandering off to do something else during the process. One mindful task at a time, and no attempt to ‘multi-task’. I permit myself no distractions this morning. Over time, my ‘thinker’ has shoved my ‘observer’ out of the driver’s seat far too often for my good emotional health, and like a restless child, my ‘thinker’ wants to be on the move all the time. It’s a playground for my demons, and I am quickly overwhelmed by the noise – I had forgotten that the noise is most often entirely within, and similarly within my ability to silence the din. Chasing the stillness by running from the noise is not the most effective practice for finding the stillness.

bridge

I’m not the first to cover this ground; other thinkers and seekers of stillness have been here before me, each having our own experience.

So here it is, today. I am at home. It is a quiet morning. I have choices – most of them come down to choosing to embrace the stillness I am seeking, or to run from the noise (and no doubt getting things done along the way, but definitely not finding the stillness).  A very good practice, I find, for embracing stillness is the practice of sitting still (literally that simple) – no stereo, no video, no conversation, no guided meditation – just sitting, quietly, breathing, aware of the sounds around me, aware my breath, filled with awareness itself – it sounds easy, but the restlessness and noise within want very much to be indulged, and it sometimes requires repeatedly returning to the present moment, setting aside distracting thoughts to breathe again, to be aware of the sounds without judgement or evaluation. We are coached all our lives to be productive, to refrain from ‘daydreaming’, and to maintain an active presence in the world. Sitting still requires practice.

Sometimes it seems necessary to find just the right place for sitting still...this too, is a distraction.

Sometimes it seems necessary to find just the right place for sitting still…this too, is a distraction.

Whatever else I may do with my time today, I will be doing it gently, mindfully, and savoring each precious moment.

It may be necessary to stand still long enough for stillness to catch up to me. :-)

It may be necessary to stand still long enough for stillness to catch up to me. 🙂

I’ll let the stillness come to me.