August 15, 2011

Stopping to Sit.

After sitting at my desk for eight hours, I decided to end my day with a long walk in Prospect Park. I hadn't yet explored the depths of the park and was eager to get lost amidst a land of green. As I entered through the main gate, I found myself behind an older woman who was, quite literally, dragging her pet poodle behind.  The poodle, a middle-sized black ball of puff, would take three steps and sit down in the grass. "Muffy!" the woman yelped, snapping the lease forward, "come on, let's go." Muffy would then get up, prance a few steps, take a look around, and sit back down.

As this cycle continued, I couldn't help but smile, although I was unsure of who I felt more bad for--the woman who obviously wanted to take a walk but couldn't leave behind her uncooperative pet, or the dog, obviously bothered by the owner's walking agenda, who just wanted to sit and relax in the park.

After a few more moments of watching the owner drag Muffy against her will, I quickened my pace and wandered through the unknown terrain.  As I walked, my mind fluttered with the thousand thoughts that swirled in my mind--what I had to finish up in my last week of work, what cover letters I needed to edit, what outfit I should wear to an upcoming wedding, and which friends I needed to call back. Every once in a while, images of grassy knolls and kites and ponds would interrupt the thoughts, and remind me to breathe. (I have a tendency to forget to exhale when I'm lost in thought). Between a fluctuation of being present and being totally zoned out, my eye suddenly caught glimpse of a man under a tree on a hill.  He sat quietly beside his tipped-over bike with his legs crossed, hands gently clasped in his lap, and his two thumbs touching. His eyes were closed; his lips slightly parted. He was undoubtedly meditating.  A faint breeze gently ballooned his loose fitting tee-shirt as it passed. That looks so wonderful, I thought to myself as I walked by. I should do that some time--just sit in the park and meditate.

Of course, it didn't occur to me right away that I could do exactly what he was doing.  Unfortunately, I have an uncanning ability to convince myself that I should do something in the future, while ignoring the fact that I could just do it now. So, it took me thirty more minutes of walking before it dawned on me that I could sit down in the park and meditate.

Since moving to New York City, I desperately crave moments of stillness. My walks to and from work are often filled with daydreams of finding nooks of quiet, be it on the East River, or a park bench, or a hole-in-the-wall coffee shop. It's so rare, however, that I listen to this craving and just sit.  Getting to my next meeting on time is more of a priority than carving out time to sit. At times, it is much too hard to resist inertia. Most days, I am both Muffy and the owner--a part of me begs to sit down and be still, and the other part ignores this desire and drags me along. 

Suddenly sick of being dragged, I attempted to find the perfect place to sit (no shade, no remnants of dog crap, no crying children, no underage kids with flasks, and no random wet spots), and finally settled into a shady spot under a tree. After doing ten push ups (I was still "supposed to be" working out, afterall), I laid in the grass in savasana, took a deep breath, and stared at the clouds.  I hadn't done that in a long time, and let me tell you, it is wonderfully freeing to watch billows of clouds move across a soon-to-be-dusk sky.

                                                                      (Image from Rosier/Daily News)

Once my hunger for stillness subsided, I got up (with a slight feeling of vertigo compliments of low blood pressure) and slowly looked around, eyes awakened to the diversity of colors, ears opened to the subtle sounds of a lone cricket, touch sensitized to the subtle breeze, and breath deepened. I walked slowly, so as not to disrupt the quiet with my footsteps, and cherished the peace before reaching the nightly noise of the Brooklyn streets. Ten minutes later, I neared the entrance. And wouldn't you know, who did I see on my way out . . .  but Muffy and her owner.  And this time, Muffy was pulling the owner along, and I couldn't help but feel victorious.

1 comment:

  1. I so find myself in this tension knowing I should stop and cherish the moment now and feeling like there is so much I should be "doing". Thank you for the reminder Ker, beautifully articulated. xo