A parallel to life I often say. What running is for me on any given day. I should add that Nature, too, is a mirror of how life flows. If you wonder, just stand next to a river and watch what it shows. What is your parallel, your mirror, your teaching? What can be a metaphor or a symbol for your centering? If you were given an assignment to describe Five Lessons I Have Learned From, what would those five lessons be? Now I anticipate I have you pausing as you start to think. Maybe you aren’t a runner, but maybe you cook or maybe you ride a bike. Can how a recipe comes together or the shifting of bike gears teach you about life? What resonates for you doesn’t have to be nature and running feet. But I would encourage you to reflect on what might be your five themes.
Though I know I could fill up many a page with the daily lessons Nature and running bring to me, I will keep this focused on those most recently. Flow, slide, duck, splash, and sway. These are the themes of the day.
- Flow as the river that is to your left or to your right. Downstream with the currents of life. The river flows in rain or shine. The river flows over rocks and limbs it might find. The river flows in harmony without a deadline to achieve. It trusts when it is the right time, its next point it will reach. It may bend and then straighten, rise and then cascade and rush rapidly. Yet steady, with sureness, it continues forward to an unknown with certainty. It balances well the tug and pull of its upstream and downstream currents that take place. It knows that its ability to flow both directions is part of its grace. If it didn’t have a waterfall or undertow to catch by surprise, the river would not grow in its capable might. The river flows and the river also aids in sustaining its community. A life force providing for others food and drink. When another runner has only minutes until the start of the race, it is encouragement breathe, you have time that one’s words can bring calm into place. It is helping a runner with her shoes, socks, and keys. It is the same runner who later reminds you that beating your goal is a possibility. Like the river, when it gives, it receives. One person’s rowing upstream allows for another’s paddle to re-steer the canoe downstream. The river is, the river has been, and the river will always know how to be. Flowing with the seasons, the rising sun and moonlight beams.
- The path you travel may be wet on top of clay. The bridge you cross may feel like you are on ice skates. You may slide, but trust that you also have the ability to keep your grip. You may have to slow down, but you can minimize your slip. If you have remained open to hear and to see, knowing that it may be slippery you will be anticipating. You always have two choices in every moment that you face. You can notice you are crossing over the river or stream; and just how beautiful are the surroundings. Or you can grumble at the rain that had made bridges slippery this way. You can wish for something that isn’t, thereby missing the presence of the day. You can hold space in your mind for the person in front of you not to slide to the point of landing hurtfully on a knee. And in that same held space you can giggle at the image if you were to slide on the wood towards the nice cold stream. Sliding doesn’t have to be a negative – just ask a baseball player what sliding means. Slipping can be leverage for being in the now of the moments wet surfaces bring.
- There is duck as in quack and there is duck as in bend low as if doing the limbo. This particular life lesson is about seeing how low you are willing to go. It can also be about discerning which route to take. Do you go under, over, or around if something has blocked your way? I have a friend who wisely says you cannot go over, under, or around and can only go through. Yet, if it is solid, there may need to be creativity too. Something may fall across your path, laying at an angle in wait for you. It an opportunity for deciding what you will do. Are you able to go under it at the right point? Or is stepping over it at the lowest point your choice? Granted a tree limb may not fret if you are stepping over or bending under – it is a tree that has fallen after all. But, given that this is a parallel to life, how often do we bend for someone if they have started to fall? Do we step just past them as we step over where they start to lean? Or do we start under, seeing if there is a way we can push them back on their feet? Or, as another parallel, are we in a hurry such that we don’t look to the ground at what we might find? That we think it is easier to step over and rush quickly by?
- When is the last time you purposefully splashed through water not caring if your feet were soaked through? And splash not in bare feet, but with shoes and socks too? If you came up to a spot on your path that your only choice was to go through, would you leave them on or would you remove your shoes? Would you take the time to remove your shoes and socks, cross, and then dry your feet on the other side? Would you splash on through knowing that your feet would dry over time? When a moment presents itself to you to jump in with both feet, do you choose the inner child, or do you choose responsibility? Do you see a splash as something that creates a sopping mess? Or do you see how a splash can have a positive ripple effect?
- There is the sway of the trees in the breeze, gently moving to and fro. An upper body dance as their roots keep a firm hold. There is the sway of a suspension bridge that partners with sliding and a river the bridge arches for. Wet wood the bridge’s backbone for a bridge capable of swaying even more. Take two feet walking across and add at the same time a crossing of six more. One might think the river is rising closer the greater the sway. There can be gratitude for the outstretched hands in the form of railings that lay in wait. If your foundation feels like it is rocking below your feet, do you keep going or do you freeze? If you feel you are caught in the wind’s sway, do you hold up your arms in glee or do you resist as you stand in place? Do you bend back and forth with the rhythm of the wind? Or do you keep your arms by your side, as if they are pinned? Do you see the sway as a cousin to the river, flowing with and not against the breeze? Or do you push against the waft and gusts, like paddling the oar upstream? Again, a choice like every moment that comes our way. To choose being soothed like a rocking chair is a way to embrace the sway.
Flow, slide, duck, splash, and sway; my five lessons of the day. Metaphors for life; within Nature I can find. Now back to your reflection on what may speak to you. What is something that you love to do? If you love to play soccer, for example, what does the field goal represent for you about how you live life? Or when you do a crossroad puzzle, what does filling in the answers symbolize? The pinch of this and the dash of that that completes a new recipe – does the adding of ingredients have something to speak? Or maybe, you too, relish nature in what it has to say about the parallel to life? Now is your turn to ponder the five lessons you find.