On a beautiful early autumn morning run through the Morton Arboretum, I marveled at the way the sun made its way through the tree canopy to the ground below. The smell of fallen leaves moistened by the night’s dew, and the earth welcoming the leaves back into the nutritional fold for the next generation of tree growth. The sweet fragrance of the fading summer grasses of the prairie; the brilliant red of the Virginia Creeper on the trees, the sounds of the animals and the insects going about their daily routines, and the peace it provides to my soul as I follow the undulating path of the road. This is what recharges me. This is where I go when I lose my direction in life, or to gain perspective, or to just be. Stress, demands, perfectionism, family, writer’s block, loneliness, overstimulated, elated, happy…all are reasons to come here to walk, hike, or run.
This particular course would have me run past my late husband’s memorial tree. As I ran the path towards that beautiful tree, I wondered, is this an anchor? As I continued, I mused on what an anchor is or could be. Not having a dictionary handy, I figured some definitions for myself. Is it something that tethers me when I am scattered; keeping me in one place, safe, and able to get my bearings? Or is it something that holds me down and prevents me from being free, to explore; staying fixed in once place and not experiencing life? Pretty heady stuff to ponder as my feet kept up the pace.
Then I looked deeper to find what was and still is holding me down and what makes me free. Excuses hold me down. I didn’t write, exercise, call, (you fill in the blank) because I’m afraid, too busy, didn’t think (fill in the blank). Wow—could I fill in those blanks—and they weren’t very pretty. Run, run, run. Is it important? What am I going to do about it? Run, run, run. The answers came to me, and I placed them in my mental list of things that I needed to change about me to get where I needed to be.
This process works very well while I run, while the blood courses through the body and my brain is high on oxygen, endorphins, and answers. How about afterward? The work that was so simple then is harder to put in practice when the brain and body don’t have the food for thought action. Hmm…seems I’m still clinging to that which is weighing me down. How to wrest free and fly?
Okay, what makes me free? I look at my other anchors, the ones that just hold onto me until can gather myself so I am free to move into the direction I’m meant to find. Friends, family, exercise, me, and a thinking tree. The list is very short, simple, and succinct.
I’ve now reached the only tree of its kind amongst many pines. I smile, give it a high five, catch my breath, closed my eyes and listened for the inner wisdom to guide me. A few minutes later, I ran down the grassy hill to the car with a new spring in my step. I’ve got work to do!
What anchors you?
This week I am at the Gay Romance Literature (GRL) Retreat in Atlanta as a Supporting Author. Those of you that are attending, come on by and see me and let me know what anchors you. Those of you that are with us at GRL in spirit, leave a comment on my blog.