Monday’s Meditation: On Going Outside
Yesterday I got really upset. Good and mad, and hurt. It was one of those times when someone says something that instantaneously causes every sensation to rush at you at all once: you neglect the process of breath, your heartbeat starts thundering rapid fire inside your cavernous chest, and the flush of red blood advances its way up from your neck to your face, and once there spreads downwards again and out to your limbs, so that your whole being feels consumed by angry heat.
In such moments, the brain defers to instinct.
Without thought, I grabbed my keys and my bag, and I went outside. I had no destination in mind, only I knew I had to go. En route to nowhere in particular, I was distracted by the sight of mountains.
Those mountains. For those of you who’ve grown up surrounded by mountains, they are perhaps no great feat. But for those of us who originate from the flatlands, mountains are just about as majestic as it gets. They pulled me like a magnet, as nature will do, and I headed straight towards them–down some steps, and to a park just blocks from my house. And then I sat there.
I sat there in front of the mountains, gorging myself on the sight of them as the spring sun shone down and the breeze momentarily borrowed strands of my hair. The green grass and shrubs were decorated here and there by the bright neons of plastic Easter eggs, and little girls and boys in their finest ran around me, shrieking with glee upon each discovered bounty. There was the sound of lawn mowers. The rhythmic pounding of the passing jogger. The hum of cars and noises everywhere. There was life, happening.
It was one of those moments when you feel the world around you begin to grow ever larger, expanding out in ripples around you, until the cramped nugget of you and your upset, once at the center of it all, can no longer be seen or felt, so spread out are they among the vaster background.
Soon you commence breathing, and you recall how small you are in comparison to the world around you, how infinitesimal your problems. You remember, too, how incredible it is that out of an infinite space, you have been lent claim to a sliver of it, that it’s within your power to shape that sliver in exactly the way you choose. You remember that your hurt doesn’t belong to you; you belong to it. And so, you decide to just release your hold. You breathe it all out, and allow only the good back in.
There are a few things I can advise with the utmost certainty and here is one of them:
If ever you are upset, go outside.
It does not matter where you are located or what the weather conditions are. You can sit or you can walk or you can run, so long as you leave the spatial barriers of manmade construction and join with the larger universe. In the presence of all that, you will be reminded of that undeniable: life is happening and will continue to happen. You are a part of the world and there is more than your world. You have a constant companion in nature that will always abide you, perpetually take you as you are, hold you in its grasp, and cause you to momentarily neglect the small knot of loneliness that lingers somewhere within each of us.
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