Thursday, April 20, 2017

I went for a walk the other day... the rain.

My to-do list was miles long, our countertops were littered with construction paper projects and mail and breakfast dishes, thoughts were swirling around in my brain, and my email inbox was nearing a record high. And being inside was making me feel trapped-- like I just needed to get out.  Except, it was raining, as it's been doing here for the past few weeks.  I stepped outside and stood in the very center of our gazebo, in a tiny radius of a spot that hadn't been touched by the gentle spring rain. I wondered aloud why it had to be raining (again) when this little voice piped into my head: Just go. Just go. Just go. And for once, I listened to that little voice.

I grabbed my jacket, an umbrella, and my rain boots and headed out to the trail.  The limestone surface was soft and saturated with rain, and each step felt like sinking into fresh bread dough.  I took a quick picture, silenced my phone, and vowed not to touch it unless I came across something extraordinary.

As I walked in silence, the cadence of my footsteps became mesmerizing.  Sheltered under the nylon pansy-print of my umbrella, I kept my eyes down, focusing only on the trail under my feet, letting my ears guide them.  Within a matter of seconds, it became a walking meditation of sorts.  With only my ears, I noticed birds chirping in the trees and bushes, small animals skittering into the brush as I approached, and worms lazily creeping along the trail-- as if intentionally baiting themselves for someone's soon-to-be afternoon snack.  I felt the breeze that carried a rogue midst of raindrops under my umbrella, and smelled the rain drenched air.

Before long, I was soaked from the waist down and my yoga pants clung to my legs.  At that moment, I realized I was chilly and as you know, I'm not a fan of being cold.  My brain told my feet to turn the rain boots around and I headed back to the van.  I put the umbrella away and let the drizzly rain soak me to the bone. In some weird way, it actually felt good.  My inner hippie felt so connected to the Earth at that moment-- it was peaceful but not quiet, calm but very awake, cold but still warm. I was moving yet my boots stuck to the Earth and time seemed to be perfectly synched to where I needed it to be.

I was almost back to the van when I glanced up and noticed a bird's nest.  It was built into the lower branches of a small tree which made it possible for me to inspect it closely.  The nest was the prettiest one I'd ever seen and the bottom edge had been made with remnants of Easter grass or packing paper. Two stiff corn husks lined the back of the nest-- almost giving it a little privacy wall because you know how those song birds like their privacy.   As I stepped closer, carefully inspecting the little nest, I half expected to find a tiny sign dangling from the rim of the branch reading, "Please Wipe Your Tweet!" 

Obviously, the rational part of me knows that birds aren't really going to hang signs up outside their nests (because duh, how would they hold the Sharpie to create it?).  But, is it possible that this bird might have a little creative flair?  A little push to be different?  A little something tugging at their heart to do something, make something, create something?  Do they have a little voice?  Did this bird listen to that tiny voice?  The one that said, that garbage over there sure would look fine woven into your nest!  The same voice that whispered, Just Go to me?

Did the bird build this nest hoping for attention? For the praise from admirers? Or did building this nest, with these creative fibers make that bird come alive?  Did she feel happier and connected to herself and the tree giving her shelter in the same way that walking outside in the rain made me feel happier?  (I'd like to point out that yes, I realize that perhaps the bird was just scavenging for items to build a nest but I'm enjoying these avian philosophical questions.)  To me, I'd like to believe that eccentric mama bird had decided to spruce things up just a bit for spring-- like most of us are ready to do-- replace the grey curtains with ones containing a splashy hibiscus print, bust out the pink flamingos and inflatable palm trees and decorate the yard, crack open the glow necklaces and scream, "IT'S SPRING!" Find something that helps us feel awake and alive and present.

For me, I've always felt these nudges.  Little whispers from the universe that urge me to get out. To try new things and venture out, even when the metaphorical rain is falling. But, I usually stop short.  I give in to fear and uncertainty, I don't fully let go.  I haven't quite stepped out into the rain. But this walk? The one where I would have missed this extrordinary bird's nest had I not stepped out into the rain?  This walk has me re-thinking things and hearing that voice again....Just go. Just go. Just go.

And what about you? The next time that little voice speaks to you, encouraging you to walk in the rain or dance around your living room or sign up for a pottery class or write that book or build a nest out of pretty paper?  Will you think twice?

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