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Word To Your Mother

February 25, 2011
Common Roots Cafe
Minneapolis, MN

It’s sunny and seven degrees outside.  Seven degrees.  It is within this despair, of living inside an urban tundra, that inspires us to strip our legs bare in 45-degree weather in March and run around thawing lakes in shorts.  The elation of spring and summer in Minneapolis are in equal proportion to the suffering incurred during these remaining weeks of winter. A bipolar existence we live up here in the northern latitudes.

We could hide inside, or we could walk the streets with a grimace on our faces and in our souls.  Or, we could, once again, yank up our chins and snowpants (hail to the invention of snowpants) or long underwear, three layers of clothes over our heads (I prefer the tank top/long-sleeved shirt/sweater or sweatshirt combo), fleece jacket under a down jacket, a hat, sunglasses against the blinding white of sun on snow, warm socks, boots, mittens, wrap a scarf around our neck and chin a few times, and find the beauty in this damn weather.

Not only can we do this, but I bet you a pack of grape Bubblicious gum and Adele’s new CD (amazing) that you would return rosy-cheeked, energized, and inspired by stepping into your discomfort to find the comfort of being outside, under the bright pale winter sky, amidst the naked, sleeping trees.

In fact, I am certain that if every human went outside for a 30-minute walk each and every day, the incidences of depression and anxiety in our culture would plummet. But that would be way too simple for us humans who want to complicate everything.

I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. ~John Muir, 1913, in L.M. Wolfe, ed., John Muir, John of the Mountains:  The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, 1938

Last week I was trapped inside petty irritations that were so petty, I can’t even recall.  But they were irritating enough that I knew I had to shove myself out the door or blow up and deal with regret.  It wasn’t five minutes later that the expanse of the outdoors shrunk my petty irritations into a distant memory.  The tall trees reaching toward the sun, their brown branches and twigs slumbering peacefully.  The sparkle of the sun off the snow.  The sound of robins and chickadees, singing their hearts out despite the cold.  The sound of quiet.

God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars. ~Martin Luther

In order to live in balance, we must honor these bodies that carry our minds and spirits through this life.  We must attend to our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual lives to be at peace with our world.  But this is not easy, and it is almost impossible without some awareness, some tuning in to ourselves and our hearts.

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. ~Albert Einstein

Going outside for a walk touches each of these aspects of ourselves and helps us achieve equanimity and balance within.

So today, go boldly into the cold, into the sun, into nature, and discover the gifts that belong only to today.

Word to your mother…

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