It Takes Courage to Slow Down

A gift from the sea

This morning I was lucky to be on a call with some powerful women friends, and one of them read this meditation from Daily Om, Madyson Taylor’s Ocean meditation.

There is much we can learn from the ocean, representative as it is of our inner landscapes. The rough sounds of the sea's waves are spiritually soothing, and its salt can purify our physical selves. Yet not everyone has the luxury of living by the shore or even visiting the coastlines where water and land meet. 

I got tears in my eyes, missing the beaches of Puget Sound where I used to live. The meditation was enough to transport me there, to my happy places, where I could hear the ocean in my heart. 

This afternoon I took my two short-legged, four-legged roommates for a walk by the Colorado River. It’s not quite the same as hearing the tide, but it was a beautiful blue-sky afternoon. And rejuvenating. I spoke to a woman I used to know over a decade ago when our sons went to school together. I spoke to another woman who had a mini Schnauzer, reminding me of the Schnoodle I used to have/love.  Despite social distancing, the rural walkways and off-leash dog park makes it possible here, for now, to say hello and connect. 

When I got home, I noticed the lilacs preparing to leaf out and Elle insisted on looking up close. The wind insisted on blowing her off the branch and I lost her in the sea of stones on the driveway. Not willing to give up on Elle that easily (I’ve recently lost one at the river park and another at a peach orchard), I got down on my knees to look around, almost at eye level.

What I found felt like a gift from the sea. A desert-mountain garden snail (ooey gooey snail still inside the shell and that’s not her taxonomic name, by the way). Last weekend’s snow must have encouraged her to come out for some moisture. 

I decided to invite a spare Elle to meet this neighborhood snail. Then the kitty named Galaxy came over to look, or get petted. Lo and behold, the sun came back out from a cloud, the wind slowed down, and the original Elle appeared in the rocks. 

Snails and stones show up with a message to slow down. I think we’re all getting that message and it’s not necessarily one that we like. 

I’ve been debating about what to write for a few weeks as the coronavirus picks up speed. The inbox is picking up speed too, with amazing, insightful resources being shared. My own creative critic voice was telling me to pull over to the curb, not add to the noise (and yet it’s not unwelcome noise). Today I am feeling more inspired to share at my own pace, like this snail, when small things inspire me and feel tied to something larger. 

Creativity is like that sometimes. Like a snail. It goes at its own pace, full of so much more patience than the observer (or perfectionist control freak). 

Courage, as it’s often perceived, seems to flash out of nowhere, when we need it most. But creative courage and social courage take more effort, so does moral courage, and physical courage. Often only after agonizing, denial, lots of fear and anxiety. We need fortified -- by friends, by blue skies, by a long walk or good cry. Or just patience and one day at a time.

For today, I’m letting the snail guide me to fortitude.