Super fun and scary, and my right shoulder tenses up incredibly to shield myself from the big scary monster of a truck on my right. The whole drive, I am remembering words from a lecture I heard by Tara Rodden Robinson, whose voice alone is enough to calm me. She speaks about the mind, and stress, and how the mind scientifically, physically, according to lots of data – interprets what we are putting in front of it.
She continues speaking calmly about all that we do in a day, and all that we are required to do, and all that we are trying to keep up with, and all the while, she is speaking slowly, melodically; she understands. She empathizes. She lets us know we are not alone. She even tells us how brave we have been to try to do all this on our own. Then she tells us how to curb the beast of too much information, too many things going on at once, so our brains can have time to be still for a minute and heal in order to handle this pace we have set for ourselves.
The first time I heard her speak, I had to hug her four times when she was done. I just kept coming back to tell her thank you one more time. I couldn’t put words to what she had just given me. It was like rain on parched earth. It was a benediction on my spirit. I felt blessed and cared for by this total stranger who helped me so tremendously, I would hear her again any time I know she’s in town.
One of the tools she gave us is to let our minds play. A mind wandering is a mind at play. Without anything specific to focus on, the ideas in our minds are like Koi fish, swimming over one another, moving around and about in a very serene way. She didn’t say Koi fish. I’m saying Koi fish. That might not at all be how she would say it. This is strictly my own interpretation.
But the first time I ever watched Koi in a pond, I was mesmerized. I spent more time staring at them than I had time to spare. And it didn’t seem to matter if I got to my meeting on time, because what these fish did for me in the space of a few minutes, was let me be with them in their slow, steady, rhythmic, beautiful, almost sensual meandering. Their bodies glide over and around one another. It’s as if they must constantly be touching, but just so gently, touching one another as softly as the water does, only in a more lovely way, and more brightly orange.
Tara talked about our time in a car between work and home, or on a long drive, and how this is perfect time for letting our minds just be, without forcing them to think about anything in particular. Obviously, we must focus our attention on the road. Clearly. But going over to do lists or listening intently to news makes our brains tired because they are constantly working. If we give our minds a chance to just be, and just drive, we get to reset, and be more alert and awake and alive and ready for the next thing.
So, on my drive today, I thought about Tara, and Koi, and I listened to a favorite soundtrack which included lots of powerful instrumental music and Nina Simone singing just dark and lovely and bold as she does. One song, Wild is the Wind, is one of the most meditative, relaxing songs I’ve ever heard, that ends with her sounding almost exactly like a powerful wind blasting across an open field and blowing at you full force. It gives me chills. I don’t know why I like these topsy-turvy powerhouse roller-coaster emotions as a way to get to a point where I can breathe deep and let my shoulders sigh in restfulness. I might just be wired to need a broad range of emotions to feel whole.
The last couple of days have been rather tense for me. Tonight, I’m going to my office Christmas party and dressing up and being a grown-up. Scott couldn’t make it, so I’m kicking it in the hotel by myself, and once again listening to Nina Simone. Missing my boys, but allowing my company to wine and dine me tonight. I’m off to get ready.
photo from here