Gratitude is the best road map.
It is lunch time and I’m finally sitting down to write my weekly blog post. Usually, I at least get started on my essay first thing Thursday mornings, before I take off for Yoga or a walk/hike. If I’m not finished before I go, I’m pretty close, and when I get back from exercise, it’s editing and emailing time. But here I am on this Thursday early afternoon, late to the party, and I have a very simple reason why…I got lost.
For those of you who know me well, you know that I am directionally challenged. Seriously. I have the world’s worst sense of direction. If I’m ever navigator in your car and I tell you to turn right, you can do us both a favor by taking a left. I get turned around even given clear and simple directives, and for the love of Pete, don’t tell me to go “three blocks North” …I have no idea what you’re talking about. (When Siri tells me this, I just turn whichever way is easiest and wait for redirection.)
I was hiking on the trails this morning, lost in my own thoughts and before I knew it, I had no idea where I was. The trails that I hike on are pretty easy to figure out and most loop back to each other so no big deal, right? Worst scenario I could think of is that I would end up popping out on the North side of town and have to grab the bus back.
Then my internal dialog kicked in: Why didn’t I pay better attention? Why did I pick a trail that I didn’t know well? Why didn’t I just go to Yoga? I have too much work to do right now! I’m wasting time! Before I knew it, my brain was in full blown negative self-talk mode, and I started getting frustrated and beating myself up.
I got lost in that crap for a minute and started feeling quite anxious, but then, I found my palms were together at my heart, and I started my morning gratitude prayer.
Thank you for my life, health, family and friends. For art, music, the ocean and mountains. Thank you for all the amazing experiences I get to have. I offer myself to you. Please give me guidance, strength and clarity to stay on the path you’ve laid out before me. Please give me the willingness to see your path and stay open to wherever it takes me. Please continue to help me walk through anxiety and fear and replace it with trust and confidence. Please continue to help all those who suffer and help them to see their own path. Thank you for these gifts. Thank you for your love. Amen.
For many, prayer is awkward. I know that because it used to be awkward for me. I had to let go of who, exactly, I was praying to. I was never sure, but eventually I came to realize that it doesn’t really matter. It is the act of expressing gratitude and asking for guidance. It is the reminder of things that are bigger than myself and that there is a pretty significant amount of suffering in the world today. I am blessed. My life is good. Whether I’m late to work or not.
Can you guess what happened next? Yup…I took a turn and immediately recognized where I was. I could have turned left and gotten back to the house quickly, but instead I went right, because that led to my favorite part of my hike. The part where I get to jump creek crossings and feel like a kid. The joyful part.
My hour-long hike turned into a two-hour lesson of patience, gratitude, and letting go. It’s been a little while since my last full-fledged chaos induced meltdown, so I think I’m getting better at this. Maybe, I have to occasionally get lost to broaden my view.
Whatever the case may be, I’m incredibly grateful that I’m seeing a shift in my habits. I reached for one of my “tools” (in this case prayer) to calm me before I got myself all in a tizzy. (Usually, I have to reach tizzy before I remember to even look for a tool.)
I’m not going to get too excited. In my experience, moments of clarity come either right after or right before a total freak out. However, it behooves me to remember what I said to a friend who recently had a slip in her Zen. “It’s ok,” I said, “We’re not perfect. It’s a practice.” I’m grateful for the practice, the work, the seeking and the finding. It’s all part of a process called growth. After all, it is Spring and I am a wild flower.
I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes. To hear from me more regularly, join me on this crazy, beautiful Artventure.