Perhaps stillness comes naturally to some people. I, however, am not one.
As a child, I rarely stopped moving — “hyper” was the word frequently bandied about — and there was some talk of medicating me into stillness. Thankfully my mother, high-energy herself, didn’t adopt the view that my energy was clinical illness and simply let me be. She did, however, implement “quiet time” during which I was relegated to my bedroom and not allowed to accept phone calls or knocks on the door from the neighborhood kids. My quiet time, though, generally gave me time to indulge my imagination. And rather than live in the moment, I lived in my busy head.
Eco-living gave me peace
Even now, when I can get my body to slow down, my mind continues to race. I confess I never realized there was another way to be — until I starting living “green.”
No one is more surprised than me that my eco-living has given me peace. I began adopting more virtuous practices because I was increasingly concerned about climate change, resource depletion, water pollution … And so I stopped using my clothes dryer and began hanging clothes outside. I left my car in the driveway and climbed onto my bike. I grew some vegetables. And I confess that, initially at least, my increasing knowledge of the threat facing our planet and us induced days of hand-wringing and nights of sleepless worry.
I found stillness in an everyday chore
But one day, as I buried my nose in some organic cotton sheets that had soaked up sun and fresh air on the line, I realized that I wasn’t thinking about ozone depletion, species extinction, deadlines, school lunches or my bank balance. I was relishing the scent of line-dried sheets and focused entirely on the ritual of removing clothespins and folding laundry. My mind was still. I had found this stillness in a decidedly ordinary but surprising place: an everyday chore.
That moment has been repeated many times since. When I slow down and enjoy the bike ride to a meeting. When I tug a carrot from rich earth. When I compost and mulch. Walk my dogs without an iPod. Take time to prepare a meal that I feel good about serving to my family. It is when doing the mundane that I’ve achieved the — for me — miraculous: a rare ability to be still.