What If…

I’ve had a strange morning routine over the last couple of months.  With temps in the morning just below 30 degrees, I’ll step outside, sans shirt and shoes, and let myself feel the cold on my body.  I’ll do a few stretches and listen politely to my mind in its weak protest to what it perceives to be an injustice.  In most situations it’s the mind that is the weak link.  My body is more than capable of acclimating to various climates if I let it and even if I were out here completely nude, it would take a long time before my body began to suffer.  My mind on the other hand likes to think it is suffering when it really isn’t.  Perception is a very strong element to our mental frame work, but it is firmly rooted in experience itself.  The two can’t be separated.  For example, what if a lifetime of experience has taught me that comfort is only to be found within a certain temperature range?  That every artificial environment I have found myself in, home, work, school, grocery store, automobile, etc. has caused me to perceive temperature fluctuations outside those of controlled zones to be interpreted as uncomfortable.  So, my little morning rituals may seem not so strange when you see that I’m merely attempting to change my minds perception by small shifts and to enjoy the experience of coldness when it often avoided.  Who am I kidding, it’s still a little strange. 🙂

As interesting as I find the interplay between perception and experience to be, it’s not the topic of today’s post, but it is related.  Let me share another little observation I’ve had recently.

While walking the other morning I was enjoying the crisp air filling my lungs, watching the south eastern sunrise proclaim the start of a new day and listening to the various birds serenading me on my morning walk.  It was 30 degrees when I left the house and I was traveling light.  I had on a pair of thermal underwear, sweatpants and two long sleeve shirts as well as a toboggan to keep this bald head warm!  A modest dress for the weather, but I knew that if I were to get cold I could increase my pace or do a sprint to increase my inner temperature.  I felt the cold embrace my exposed skin and the slight tingle in my fingers and toes. Although not uncomfortable, I thought how much I was looking forward to spring and the warmth that comes with it.  Almost immediately I was hit with another thought; what if this is your last winter?  What if this south eastern sunrise is the last one you will ever see?  What if these leafless tress and the birds you can see perching on them are the last to ever be witnessed by your consciousness?  What if the cold on your skin is the last to be felt?  The cold air filling your lungs never to fill these lungs again?  What if this is your last winter?

An immediate transformation occurred in my mindset.  No loner was I wishing for warmer temps or looking forward to an unknown future, but instead grounded in the here and now; this moment of winter and all that comes with it was all that mattered.  I’m not alone in this, that much I know for sure.  Who hasn’t, in the cold of winter wished for warmer days and in the same year in the hot of summer wished for cooler temps? And so a wishing away of the precious moments that make up our lives, all while failing to notice the beauty of those moments too often passing us by unnoticed.   If you really want to know how to enjoy life, think it terms of its limits and how you too are limited in the time given to appreciate it.  Most likely, if you’re open to the experience, your perception will change and sometimes all it takes is a shift in perception to make life much more enjoyable.


2 thoughts on “What If…

  1. I tend to keep temps in the house low in winter so it’s always a little chilly and often the thought of the more frigid out doors sometimes keeps me from venturing out for exercise. When I do, I’m typically rewarded with an exhilarating walk/run/bike ride. Keeping the hands and feet from frost bite is tough, but one thing I love about biking in the winter is the absence of bugs – specifically, gnats. I hate the added layers but I hate the gnats more. I live off a bike path that meanders alongside a creek in a wooded area and the winter months allows you to see the water which in the summer is obscured by trees and foliage. Beautiful. So, I get what you mean that you have to appreciate whatever time of year for the benefits offered.

    As to your deeper message… I just happened upon a TED video of a girl that learned she was dying from cancer. She was trying to live life to the fullest but her message to the audience was – why do we wait until we know we are dying? Of course we need to eat and afford the roof over our heads and that forces us to deal with the more immediate challenges of living/surviving. That’s why I love your story since you’ve figured out the balance. I love the analogy of the treasure map where the chest of gold is not the treasure but instead is the dotted line that leads to it. Appreciate the path. I’ve recently started preparing for a trip – out of my comfort zone – but I am allowing myself to enjoy the winding dotted line instead of just focusing on the final destination.

    Nice post…

    • Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughtful comment. Kudos for venturing out in to the cooler temps, each season does indeed have elements that can be perceived as negative, but each offers its own unique beauty as well.

      I would love to claim that I’ve “figured out the balance”, but the best I can get away with is to say I made a few wise financial moves a few years ago that gave me time to think deeply on subjects that were always important, but found themselves put on the shelves of my mind while I focused on other not-so-important-elements of living. Today, I’m intrigued much more by the “dotted line” than any treasure that may be revealed. Perhaps the real wisdom, the real treasure to be found in living, is to truly come to terms with what “dotted line” is worthy of following and the will to disregard all the rest…

      Save travels and may the boundaries of your comfort zone be thoroughly broken.

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