Monday, November 5, 2018

Fall: Don't Blink or You'll Miss It

Couleur via Pixabay
Fall is my favorite season. This year, it took its time getting here, meandering through September and much of October before it finally made more than a cameo appearance. Even then, it played peekaboo, popping in and out between raindrops and 70 degree days before it decided to stick around.

Still, as much as I longed for fall temperatures to arrive, I was remiss in paying attention to its other attributes. Last week, for the first time, I got out of my head long enough to appreciate the leaves that overhung the streets I drove regularly to work each day. I'm embarrassed to admit that the only reason I looked up in the first place was because I was stopped in traffic; the cessation of my forward movement interrupted the constant flow of to-do's that typically runs through my head on my short drive to work.

I was more attentive on the ride home, looking up as much as safety would allow to take in the yellow and orange canopy arching overhead. That simple act had a lovely, relaxing effect, the beauty of the rich colors scattering my stress like a gentle breeze that scatters the leaves themselves.

Friday night, it rained hard and the wind whipped around me, ripping the leaves from their branches. Today, it rained again -- without the wind this time -- but the damage was done. The leaves that had arched overhead last week now lay on the ground, plastered to the road by the insistent rain.

It's not often that I'm grateful for construction that interferes with my getting to work on my scheduled but if it weren't for that minor annoyance last week, I might have missed the leaves. Too engrossed in my own thoughts and plans to look up, I nearly missed the very thing I was waiting for.

Last semester, when I taught my positive psychology class, I was good at remembering to be mindful -- to be fully present wherever I was -- rather than physically present but mentally elsewhere. The older I get, the more I believe that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, no matter how inconvenient, frustrating or fantastic. That belief facilitates mindfulness but, by itself, it's not enough. I need to remember to pay attention to where I am -- not to simply go through the same motions on autopilot or, worse yet, shut out my surroundings by checking my phone.

There are still leaves to appreciate and, once the rain subsides, brisk, sunny days to enjoy.

I just have to be wise enough to know where to place my focus.

No comments:

Post a Comment