Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Slow down

"Put off taking action for a while and turn inward. You're in touch with your deepest feelings right now, so it's a golden opportunity to figure out what you're really looking for."

Another horoscope that works, if not every day, then for many days. These days drive frantic activity, the pursuit of the last rays of sunshine, the last few ergs of warmth, the last foot candles of light before the sun goes away. We talk about the weather every day, but in these crisp, bright autumn days, it is with reverence. We soak up the good days, and as for the bad days, there really are few.

But the calendar is relentless. First frost varies depending on microclimate. People on the mountains have had theirs long since, and last night we had our first real frost. Much of last night, they were haying the field across the road. The radio station is phasing out the lawn and garden report. And yesterday if you looked over toward Mount Mansfield, you could see the first snow sparkling on the peak.

“It’s comin’!” exclaimed my friend in the auto shop. The light in her eyes spoke of even crisper days working the snowmobiles. A few more months, and she will be weary of too many cars sliding off roads, fuel bills that are too high, and all the shadow side of winter. For now, there is excitement, anticipation and joy.

This time of year is treacherous for me. I get a new boss every year, and no matter how congenial, there is always a transition. The retreat of sunlight appears to affect me badly, so I am trying light therapy. Stay tuned…I just got the lamp yesterday. Meanwhile, I have enjoyed obeying my doctor’s prescription that I get outdoors at midday. It is an odd sensation, leaving behind pressing projects to go outdoors and walk.

What happens? I get perspective on the pressing projects, or on my attitude toward them. I stretch both muscles and worldview. I come back rested and richer. Why do I have to relearn this every single day? Wouldn’t you think I would get it after some large number of repetitions of the very same experience?

I have friends—mostly men—who are dedicated to routine exercise. I envy their ability to make a priority of storing up reserves. By taking care of themselves, they create a strength and focus that they can bring to bear on whatever other priorities they choose. There is a lesson there for all the rest of us, if we could only choose to learn it.

This time of year, it is easy to get out in the sunshine, to enjoy nature’s colorful display. Maybe I can learn the lesson this week that slowing down is the right way to figure out what I’m really looking for and to strategize how to get there. Or at least, in the name of complying with doctor’s orders, I can delight in these spectacular days.

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