When I was eight or so, I would swing around a medium-sized tree in our backyard. The braided rope was tied around the center of a small log, attached to a large limb. The rope would bite into my fingers as I swung around the base of the tree. I would climb ‘onboard’, wrap the rope swing around the tree, and unwind like a spinning top. It was a rush of adrenalin, yet the most still and perfect moment. My imagination allowed me to win races, complete acrobatic moves, and simply fly.
Every night, my daughter asks to play outside. I watch as she talks through a story in her imagination. She climbs, swings, and dances performing in the quiet of our backyard. If I allow myself to stop long enough, I can remember the joy and peace I experienced playing at her age. As an adult, I long for a similar peace and comfort. The closest I’ve come to this experience is running. The physical exertion and rhythmic motion of running takes me out of ‘doing’ and into ‘being’. As I am on my third set of running injuries, It’s time to find a new sense of peace. Hiking and walking are out, although they come a close second.
When one door closes, I thought as an answer offered to me while spending time with my daughter. She reminded me to ‘go back to basics’ when faced with a personal challenge. At home and school she often asks, “What comes first?” At the start of her day or as she transitions from one activity to another, she’ll then ask, “What comes next?” Her life is ordered with a series of steps to make sense of complicated social world.
So this simple reminder prompted me to ask myself a similar question, “What comes first?” As I run through the various responsibilities in my day, I forget to ask myself what comes first. Self-care. “What comes next?” Family. “…and after that?” I’m not sure, but if I at least ask the question I may consciously think about the answer.
This leads me back to the little girl swinging around that medium-sized tree or the woman who would rather be running. Finding ways to re-center myself is the goal. Whether it’s on a swing, running, or simply taking a minute to remind myself to simply focus on the next step; it’s all about making my way back to the quiet place within.