Friday, August 26, 2011


reflection in lakeReflections

I was really sick this past week – first I got a nasty case of Shingles and then my weakened immune system let in a bout of bronchitis.  The doctor prescribed meds and my mother reminded me to get lots of rest and drink lots of fluids.  But this isn’t about being sick.

This is about getting better.  I was taking all the meds I’d been given, and looked for cool ways to try and get some rest.  So I got out my old hammock and strung it between two trees near the point of our property where there’s water on three sides – a great place to get that rest while staring at and watching the changing reflections in the water.

First – there’s calm water where the reflection of the trees and other scenery on the far shore can be seen in reverse in the water that meets the shore.  Trees that reach both to the sky and then are reflected across the surface of the lake and ferns that fill in around the trunks of the trees also fill in the reflection closest to shore.  And as the sun goes in and out of the clouds these scenes become softer or more intense.  These mirror images allowed me to see things twice, and some of the elements only got noticed in the reflection.  As I stared at the water these two images started to blur and run together….and the separation between them also blurred.  That seemed to be a visual metaphor for life and the things we see and deal with everyday.  More on this later.

Second – in the late afternoon, the sun’s angle creates what look like dancing diamonds on the water’s surface.  These sparkle in the wind and I had to squint to watch these for any length of time.  And the more I watched, the more they danced and formed what looked like formations – pseudo faces and patterns that were mesmerizing and triggered a sort of reverie.  Things that I saw in the water reminded me of things from my current and past life.  Friends from long ago, family, and places I’d been.  Each of these danced in my mind as I swayed in the hammock, and they all ran together.  Were they connected, should they have been connected or could they ultimately get connected???   More on this later too.

And last, there was still water – where the clouds overhead are reflected, and the trails of the water bugs spider across the surface, and birds land on lily pads, and fish jump.  The lakes are alive with life – maybe not the life we deal with everyday, but many of all the other kinds of life that’s constantly going on around us and which we rarely notice.  But when we do it’s fascinating to behold.  And once you start seeing it, you can’t stop seeing it.

So, here’s the later: being weak or sick slows things down, and that’s when the mind plays games and tricks and actually starts to see things more clearly.  Eyes grow heavy and in them are seen connections and patterns that don’t ordinarily get noticed.  And in those we start to see how things and people maybe should fit together.  Fact is we don’t slow down, lie down or hang around enough in general.  But maybe we should.  Maybe we could benefit from a little more time like this, where we take a break from all the stuff we have to do each day and spend time reflecting on the other stuff that’s going on around us.  People who exercise or meditate regularly experience this - I have friends and family who run marathons and they tell me that the times spent training and running take the mind to a different place like this. So why wait until we’re feeling poorly to start looking at and seeing things reflectively?  Why must we try to fill every waking moment with productive things to the point where we can’t or don’t spend time reflecting??  Slowing down to smell the roses is probably something we should do more of -  because that’s the kind of thing that can make us feel better in general.  And in the end, I’m not sure if I started to feel better because I was taking the meds, and drinking and resting, or because I had slowed down enough to reflect on the things around me.

My message this week is about taking ownership and responsibility for your actions:

Arte NathanNever let the fear of striking out get in your way.” -Babe Ruth

When George Herman Ruth Jr. turned 7 years old, his parents realized he needed a stricter environment and sent him to the St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys.  The monks there worked with him to develop his baseball skills and when the Baltimore Orioles owner Jack Dunn signed the 19 year old Ruth, the other players referred to him as “Jack’s newest babe” – and thus the most famous nickname in American sports history was born.

What are you afraid of today?  Surely the fear of failure haunts everyone, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying.  And if you try and fail, that shouldn’t stop you from trying again.  Just like when you learned to ride a bicycle, you probably fell several times and your parents encouraged you to get up and try again.  If you’re ever going to be successful at anything, it will be because you take ownership of whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish and commit to doing whatever it takes to get it right.  Everything in life is like that first bicycle ride – you have to keep at it until you succeed.  Even though you may be scared of what might happen you can never shy away from your responsibilities.  And remember to never let the fear of failure get in your way.

Stay well!

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