An October day a few years ago: On this crisp bluest-sky morning, I am doing something I love, horseback riding with friends, but I’m not really focusing on what I am doing. Instead I am worrying about an appointment I have this afternoon, fretting about the need for this MRI I will undergo and mentally listing the things I need to do to make it on time: get back to the barn, unsaddle and release T.J., hike to my house a few hundred yards away, take a quick shower, drive twenty minutes into town, eat lunch with some friends while keeping an eye on my watch, and head to the ambulatory care center of our medical complex.
Three days earlier I have seen an orthopedic surgeon. His findings of some cervical disc degeneration and his insistence that I have this MRI worry me. My neck is painful and stiff, I have pain and numbness in my arm indicating a pinched nerve, and I am fearful I’ll have to give up the vigorous activities that are so important to me: horseback riding, mountain biking, windsurfing.
Alhough I have recently read a wonderful book, How to Want What You Have by Timothy Miller, and though I am consciously trying to practice his tenets of compassion, attention, and gratitude, I still often find myself doing exactly what I am doing: worrying about something over which I have no control instead of enjoying the moment on this trail ride with friends on a lovely October day.
Then, as three other women and I near the end of our ride, skirting the creek a couple of hundred yards away from the barn, my friend Cindy, riding her horse directly behind me, says simply, “Look up.”
And in the reaches of the live oak and pecan tree canopies above us, thousands of monarch butterflies startle, flying from their resting spots, alarmed by the sounds of our horses’ hooves.
We stop; the quiet rustle of wings plays a music I hear with my entire body; I am alert to this moment and to being here and to witnessing the gentle pull of nature, calling me to be aware, to be here now.
For these moments the fretting noise in my head stops, creating a perfect instant of quietness and wonder in the midst of chaos and a little craziness.
And I almost missed it.
What chaos do you need to calm?
What calls you to awareness? What things have drawn you to be here now?