Sommerville Johnston is the founder of Aspen Roots Collective. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor as well as Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, and wilderness instructor. She is passionate about creating opportunities for women to connect with the natural world, to explore their inner-landscapes, and to discover within themselves a strength and beauty more powerful than they previously knew.
I recently came across the following quote by Edward Abbey that seemed appropriate for our fall season:
“There are some good things to be said about walking. Not many, but some. Walking takes longer, for example, than any other known form of locomotion except crawling. Thus it stretches time and prolongs life. Life is already too short to waste on speed. I have a friend who’s always in a hurry; he never gets anywhere. Walking makes the world much bigger and thus more interesting. You have time to observe the details. The utopian technologists foresee a future for us in which distance is annihilated. … To be everywhere at once is to be nowhere forever, if you ask me.”
— Edward Abbey
It strikes me that life happens “in-between.” We set a goal; the achievement is just a moment in time, but the process of getting there, that is life. To move slowly enough to notice the changes… how often do we do this?
We want to hop the plane, skim the cliff notes, scroll to the highlights. But when we are only present for the destination, we lose sight of the pulsing nature of life, the fact that it has rhythm, that nothing is permanent, that it moves in cycles that are never exactly the same.
If we can learn to be present in the cycles, perhaps we will resist them less, and open ourselves to trusting that life will keep moving and we will not be abandoned to the moment of pain, or have to cling to the joyful times out of fear of never having them again.
Now, as the days shorten and we move between seasons, what would it take for you to appreciate the in-between? Perhaps a new practice, or a renewal and recommitment to an existing practice… A practice that provides the structure needed to appreciate the in-between.
If this sounds too theoretical, here are some more specific invitations:
- Delay the morning screen time in order to stretch your body, even if only for five minutes.
- Bike to work (or the store, or your friend’s house, or anywhere!) instead of driving.
- Walk the dog instead of going to the dog park and taking work calls (look for ways to cut out the “multi-tasking”).
- Notice the colors in the produce section.
- Try 5 minutes of meditation with Insight Timer first thing in the morning.
- Take a walk after dinner.
- Ask your partner/friend/family member a question about their day, and then listen to the silence as they formulate an answer…
- Practice allowing space for your own silence when answering a question.