life, Spirituality

Sunsets and Spokes

I noticed a shift in myself recently.

I’ve always been drawn to the beauty of a sunset. My mom and I frequently text to make the other aware of the truly amazing ones. Sunrises too. If I happened to be outside to see one, I’d gaze, smile, and think about life a little bit.

Until about a month ago, I began going out of my way to ensure I got in a “sunset ride.” In the past, I thought it was neat if I happened upon one. Still do. Except now, I prefer it daily and have found for the first time in my life, I anticipate it greatly. On the car ride home from work, I start thinking about it.

In a very short period of time, these rides on my mountain bike have become a sort of sacred ritual. For a few minutes while riding, I can empty my mind and just be.

This all started with a story my dad told me. He and a friend ran into each other on an evening walk with the dogs. They were talking about everything and nothing I’m sure, as men in their late 60’s do. During their conversation, as the sun was setting, they agreed on this: “He who experiences the most sunsets, wins.”

I thought nothing of this story at the time. Little did I know a seed was planted, and a few days later I went out for that first evening cruise — with no agenda other than to be in nature and let the colors and the wonder of the sunset set in to my soul.

In the third week of these evening rides, I bumped in to my dad’s friend. He was out walking his dog of course. I shared with him that my dad informed me about the “sunsets & winning” thing. He smiled and said, “Well you know, at your age you don’t think about it much but at my age you realize you don’t have too many sunsets left, so you seek them out.”

Except I am seeking them out. There are certainly many things in life I am naive to and don’t think about (and surely I could busy myself with many of these things), but in regards to well-being, family, following a passion, and serving — I think about these things all the time.

Morning inspirational reading, midday outdoor swims, sunset rides…these are just a few of examples of activities I find extremely rejuvenating and spiritually uplifting.

The trap I fall into sometimes is thinking I can trade in these sacred rituals temporarily while I chase a goal that requires the totality of my time, energy and focus. This almost always ends poorly.

The key I’ve found is to keep my aliveness intact. Today, I’m grateful I’ve found another way to do that, at least until daylight savings time ends next month 🙂

Keep feeling and experiencing all the mysteries and unfoldings around you, including a sunset or two perhaps.

Keep learning; the outdoors can teach you a lot.

Keep loving.

Keep leading.

Keep livin’.

I’ll do the same.

leadership, life, Spirituality

Clarity from Stillness

Stillness. There is beauty in it. I thrive in the complete silence the beginning of the day offers. I become fully aware of choices – ones I’ve made, ones currently available to me, and ones I will make in the future. I am in awe of the simplicity of the realization that I am a product of all my past decisions, which have been influenced by the people I’ve met and the books I’ve read.

I am grateful to not feel the need to blame anyone for anything. Peace that accompanies this feeling. And for a moment, just for a moment, there is nothing to prove or accomplish. For a moment, there is no list of to-do’s or expectations. For a moment, I can just be. In this moment, I sense the radical renewal of my mind and energy. I feel an unstoppable force with undisputed clarity guiding my breath and my thoughts. I dread nothing. I look forward to nothing (except the next sip of coffee). I just fully enjoy myself and this moment to no end. I am present.

I am grateful and keenly aware of the activities in my life that constantly seem to pull me away from the tranquility and magic of the mindfulness I am experiencing. I begin to smile as I fantasize being able to maintain this state throughout my day. What if I could? I know I can and have confidence that with more practice and regularity of entering this state, I can live being more in tune with my inner world, moment by moment.

I am reminded of a self-defeating, sabotaging thought from the previous night and can immediately recognize the foolishness and insanity of the thought – a critical judgment of myself for not being as fit or in as peak of shape as I was in the past. Where does this absurd thinking come from? It’s clear to me that when these subtle thoughts tug at me (sometimes unconsciously) during random times throughout the day, they are not uplifting or helpful. I consciously transfer these thoughts to ones of acceptance and love, and rest in the true reality of my healthy state.

I then remind myself of my choices and what truly brings me joy – my family and friends, my work, the outdoors – and let go of the harsh treatment I often subconsciously subject myself to. I am deeply grateful for the awareness of this inner critic as many are not and again, I peacefully bring my internal conversations back to ones that support loving David and the great possibilities ahead of me.

I realize these moments are opportunities to imprint upon my consciousness the freedom and peace of being in an anxiety-free state. I think back to the past five years of my life and the decisions I have made to de-clutter some overcrowded aspects of my life, and I am thankful for trusting myself to make hard decisions — even though at the time I was hesitant due to caring too much about what others thought of me.

I understand clearly now that the cumulative effect of these decisions have allowed me to regain something very precious: more frequent access to quiet, still moments of thought and reflection. Stillness. The result is that I feel more connected to my truest desires, most sincere intentions, and highest aspirations. It reinforces my devotion to spend my mornings reading, learning, and listening. And it renews my dedication to living a life on purpose.

I have never been as clear as I am in this moment, that happiness cannot be gained from anything outside of me – whether it be accumulating trinkets, winning the approval of others, or mindlessly following my inner critic – rather it comes from within…it’s a simple choice.

“There is no way to happiness; happiness is the way.” -Thich Nhat Hanh