The Art of Being in August
As we move into the last days of summer, it’s time to practice the skill of sitting and being. For one thing, it’s too hot to do much else. Plus I think in our crazy hectic world, we need to remember how to just sit and watch the world go by.
I encourage you over the next couple of weeks to find a comfortable spot outside and sit down. Look at what is around you. Don’t add things to your to-do list. (“That needs weeding,” or “I should paint that shed” are not part of being.) Don’t think of the past (“I wish I had…”—not helpful). Instead just be with what is. See the deadheads on the flowers and admire their beauty. Look at the colors of the plants and the sky. Look at the shapes of the buildings. And appreciate it all exactly as it is.
As humans we get caught up in feeling responsible for those around us, and in the idea that we have to continually improve ourselves and others and our environment. While it is true that we influence the world around us with our thoughts, words and actions, we are not responsible for everything that goes on.
Watching the light change from afternoon to evening can cure us of the fanciful illusion that we are important and in control and that everything would fall apart without us. The earth spins, the moon rises, the sun sets, the stars and planets pass through the sky. The possums, raccoons, palm rats and moths go about their way. None of them pay attention to us.
Sitting quietly helps us remember that a large part of our job is to sit still and be with what is.
How often do we remember to do this?
Larry and I spend treasured summer evenings sitting on lawnchairs and watching the sky get dark and the stars come out. The shapes of the bushes and trees in the gloaming is always a treat. The moon moves in the sky. Orion goes from lying down to standing up. Mars is now showing up (although not as red as I expect—maybe it’s not Mars).
We have a portable radio with a bent antenna that we tune to Vin Scully and the Dodgers, or to Prairie Home Companion. We sit in the dark, listening to the radio, and feeling the air cool off after the heat of the day.
We chat, we unwind. We enjoy our yard. We be with each other. We be with nature. Sometimes I think this is the most precious gift there is.
I encourage you to sit outside this evening. Sit alone and enjoy your little piece of the planet. Or sit with a companion or two who can enjoy it with you.
The quiet moments seemingly full of nothing are actually full of everything.