Time without Meaning

Western understanding of time is that it is a commodity to be exchanged for money. Our entire system, including institutions, commerce, systems for governance and lifestyle, is based on our time-is-money definition. It creates an environment in which clock combat is king. We immerse ourselves in a pressure cooker and wonder why our heads and hearts hurt so badly.

A sign found in Jaipur, India.

A sign found in Jaipur, India.

Our preoccupation with time is further intensified through our alienation from the natural world. Who has time to dally about, reflect or pause? It is too costly, we argue. We can’t afford it.

But Nature and the time we spend with it is as essential as good nutrition. We are natural beings. We need Nature to remember who we are and why we are here. Our communion with the natural world has been forgotten. And yet it is as important as the air we breathe.

For the past few weeks I have been traveling about Nepal and now India, feeling at one with all things and wonder how I could feel so comfortable in a place so foreign to my usual surroundings.

And then, as I strolled through the desert amongst camels and nomads, it suddenly hit me. The people here mill about towns just as casually as the cows and dogs and monkeys that inhabit the places we have seen. The co-mingle, co-exist and co-inhabit with Nature. The food they eat is real food. It is Slow Food that actually doesn’t need capitalization. They don’t eat processed foods geared toward saving time in its preparation because time and nature are the same.

When we return next week, I hope to remember the lessons I have learned here and, to my very best ability, uphold the same understanding I have gained during my travels to these most exquisite places.

I am humbled by the experience. Blessings to you all.

Summer’s Farewell

The sun raskyys pierce through the open sky. The smell of decaying leaves fills the air. Summer gasps its last breath as we say fare-thee-well for another year.

I have never been at such peace to bid the hot months goodbye as I have been this year. Something has awakened within me to appreciate the very moment instead of mourning the passing of summer. I have somehow grown wiser, or more accepting, of the Earth’s need to pause.

A predictable deceleration takes hold as the days grow slightly shorter. The pressure to “go do something” eases as we tap into our inner chipmunks that seek dark places to hide in the warm shelter of our homes. Pumpkin soup suddenly seems appealing. Cooking is a treat once again. The rhythm of life slows as we match the pace of the weather patterns lulling us into hibernation.

It is okay to take it down a notch. To retreat to the depths of our caves. To reflect on a most spectacular season. To be alright with the nothingness that more restful times bring. It is no longer necessary to keep searching. Everything we have ever needed sits quietly in our laps.

I am so very grateful for this life. For the pain. For the joy. For the ever-present moment of now. Every bit of it. Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Each season plays a most significant role in our own becoming. The change of seasons grants us license to make our own radical changes where necessary. Such transformation, the Earth tells us, is the natural course of things. I find reassurance in its implicitness.

What used to feel like death to me is now merely a place in the cycle of life. It is so very beautiful to be a part of it all.

Would you agree?

 

The Bud Before the Bloom

The light hit my face with an intensity I hadn’t felt in months as the sky filled the world with a new kind of preciousness.

Spring had finally come.

Do you know the feeling that you are about to burst with something completely new, utterly surprising, absolutely amazing, like a bud before the bloom? You have no evidence that something incredible is about to happen, but you just know it will? It lies deep within your inner knowing and it makes you smile as you take a peek at the potential before you.

magic of springWhen we live with the anticipation of wonderfulness, it is as if that wonderful thing has already happened. We then attract even more wonderfulness and pretty soon our entire lives have shifted because of that one decision to believe that our dreams will come true.

It takes:

  • Complete acceptance of the moment. Live it fully. Know that you are exactly where you should be. Right now.
  • A full release of any expectation that things should be different,  but a knowing that you can change things any time you want.
  • An embrace of your personal responsibility. You are the master of your ship. Where do you want it to go?
  • A deep listening to your inner voice. You can only hear it in stillness. So be still. Often.
  • An unshakable belief in yourself and in the fulfillment of dreams.

Waiting for wonders isn’t a bad thing. In fact, you experience them every day if you have the eyes to see them. It isn’t the big ones that deserve our attention, but the tiny miracles that unfold with every breath we take.

 

The Story of an Orchid

Sometimes we must die to be born again. Even the most fragile of us can be resurrected. It just takes the right conditions.

Nature's resilience

Nature’s resilience

This past June my orchid languished in record temperatures while I lounged in the French sun. It wasn’t fair. It was careless. I came back to what my partner called “certain death” on my balcony in Freiburg. My poor plants had been through the wringer. Ignored, forgotten, undernourished, they were limping on the precipice between here and the thereafter.

Rushing to their aid, I doused them in buckets of water, murmuring prayers of apology as the water hit their soil. My orchid plant had been damaged the most. Sunburnt and petulant, it lacked forgiveness for my thoughtlessness.

But as I fertilized and sympathized, I had a feeling my partner’s prediction was wrong. The orchid would survive. It would forgive. And it would come back stronger than ever.

It took a few weeks before the first buds formed. But they came — willingly — just waiting for the invitation to emerge.

Kind of like what happens to us when we’ve been on a long, thirsty journey, only to be rewarded and given the opportunity to show our truest potential.

I am grateful for my orchid’s resilience. Its encouraging robustness gives me strength. And it has taught me that when we finally get what we need, we not only can survive. We can thrive. And shine. And cast off the most glorious colors when sunlight and rain merge to reveal what is nothing less than magic.

Let There Be Rain

If we only ever wanted sunshine, we’d never get rainbows.

Rain brings the Earth to life. It is essential to our existence. And yet we resist rain  — we complain about it as if it really weren’t necessary. It messes with our plans. We resent it.

And so it is with most things in life. Rain comes pouring down on us in the form of conflict, disconnect and misunderstandings. We lose our jobs, our partners, our sense of self. We step out into the downpour without an umbrella, completely naked and soaking wet.

We oftentimes forget how important these times are for our own growth. We kick. We scream. We wish all the discomfort away.

All the while we are deaf to the sounds of our own depth, growing deeper.

If we are attuned to the broader vision of our lives, we may see the storm around us as a momentary event that will bring us further into ourselves. The raging winds, the pelting rain beating against the pane and the swirl of seemingly never-ending wetness all serve a greater purpose toward self-discovery and a more meaningful connection to the world. Rain is transformative. It shapes us into who we are.

Water brings more richness to our lives — even in the form of tears. We can choose to see such moments as a gift – or as a curse.

Let there be rain, my friends. Only then, in concert with the sun, is it possible for rainbows to appear.

 

Friday – In Pictures

A picture speaks a thousand words. And because my super-duper webmaster finally fixed the bug that made my blog sick (and pictureless), I am honoring his efforts by posting a few of my favorite snapshots today.

Enjoy the view!

I gave my best friend this mug before I set off for a new life in Freiburg, Germany. I had no idea what awaited me…

(c) 2014 Tanja Bruch Photography

(c) 2014 Tanja Bruch Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One thing I hoped for was a lot of sunshine.

freiburg sky april 11, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I got it.

And sometimes, with change, comes upset. Like spilled milk. But look at how pretty it can be!

Freiburg spilled milk

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freiburg is special. I knew I was on to something.

Freiburg tree 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Even the trees smile here,” my visiting sister said.

I had to agree.

Freiburg Erdmännchen_2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s even a local petting zoo within walking distance.

For free.

Freiburg - road less travelled

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes taking the road less travelled is scary.

Foto-5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can get into deep water.

But truth be told, it has been so very worth it.

Cuz what you get in the end is the sense of being free. Which means FREI in German.

Kinda like FREIburg. Yeah. Life is funny like that!

herman

Your Secret Place

The holiday season is meant to be a basket of joy, but I am getting the sense that many people are more on edge than usual.

On those days when life gets out of hand, expectations mount and stress spills into your bloodstream, it is important to go to that secret place inside yourself that makes you feel whole again.

Sometimes it helps to surround yourself with beauty. Nature can do that. In fact, Nature does it without trying. It is amazing how effortlessly the sky can look like this:

FR Llama

Mundenhof, Freiburg

FR Sky

The Freiburg Sky, December 16, 2013

FR Sky with Llama

Mundenhof, Freiburg

Astounding grace! The perfection with which the Freiburg sky embroiders sunlight with cloud humbly brings me back to my secret center ~every time.

If you are getting lost in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, go outdoors. Discover the simplicity of Nature’s call. It will help you return to that place inside that is more powerful than the sun, reminding you that who you are is more than enough.

Always.

 

Beauty in the Strangest Places

Forget the Fountain of Youth. According to Franz Kafka, “[a]nyone who keeps the ability to see beauty in every age of life really never grows old.”

If we look about us, we can find beauty everywhere ~ in the gentle lilting fluff of a six-month-old baby in the pediatrician’s waiting room; in a sonorous bird’s song in the forest; in the gleam of light that strains through the clouds for the duration of one breath on an overcast day; in a friend’s caring voice that you haven’t heard in a year.

Beauty’s triumph surrounds us every day. If we listen closely, we can hear its call. Yet, beauty, like time, is fleeting. It is for us to behold but for a moment before it retreats once again. Ephemeral beauty captivates the soul and breathes life into every one of us, if we let it.

Where do you see beauty today?

Dance Between the Raindrops

Yesterday I got caught in two rainstorms. In my old, pre-Slow life, I may have found that to be problematic at best. But now I take it, take it all, with a blissful acceptance that everything is meant to be. And to be offered an opportunity, at every moment, to grow beyond yourself, to see things as a chance to dance, not fret.

When you look at it that way, getting wet is not such a bad thing after all.

We make up stories every day about the why, what and wherefore of things. We categorize, analyze and discern meaning where there perhaps is none.

We are mean-making machines. We thrive on finding it in virtually everything.

And if we are built this way, to define things, even time itself, as something, anything, why not interpret your world as a thing of beauty?

You have the power to orchestrate your reality to the highest good.

When you believe, you begin to receive – in ways you may never have thought possible. People will start to notice that smile on your face and want to know more. Goodness will gravitate toward you because you have the eyes to see it -at long last.

So dance between the raindrops. Embrace joy wherever you can.

It is worth it. It really is.