Stop. Take a slow, deep breath. Fill your diaphragm first and then let it out slowly. Try it again, closing your eyes perhaps. Ah.
There is a relentless car alarm blaring at us, emanating from inside our homes, leaking out of every electronic pore. You would think that what is happening in Portland and Kenosha is happening ten feet in front of your own house. I don’t mean to diminish the injustice and poor civic management taking place all over, some of it even local. Rather, to remind us that the awful things taking place are not the sum total of what is happening in the world.
How about another slow deep breath? Feel your mind settle into the gravity of your body.
There are those who want us over-wrought, who would like our blood pressure bubbling high and our thoughts swirling with manic verve. It produces fear, and fear slaps us with binary thinking: fight or flight. Whenever fear enters the bloodstream our capacity for open thinking fogs over and we become reactionary.
Try another slow, deep breath. Exhale as slowly as you inhale. Feel the slowness return to your mind. When thinking, slow is good.
We get to choose the lens through which to see the world around us. We can populate our view with as much beauty as ugliness. There is plenty of both.
Some folks want us to see only ugliness – the dark, fearful, and repugnant. When that happens we develop a kind of beauty blindness. In an anxious, dread-colored world we begin to think and believe only the self and our own security matters. Beauty disappears, eclipsed by shadows. Time to breathe again.
In the streets, among the police, in emergency rooms, even in Kenosha and Portland, there is beauty. Beauty is much more difficult to commercialize so we aren’t shown its images. In fact, once beauty is commercialized it loses whatever mysterious substance it is that makes it beautiful. It is like manna that way – beauty must be apprehended in the moment, never stored or hoarded. I was stopped dead in my tracks by beauty this week.
I rode my bike along the lake to the Cayuga-Seneca Canal Trail at sunrise. As I crossed the paved road that goes to the marina and into Bishop’s Woods, I saw something I couldn’t understand for a moment. The path is a straight shot from there to Waterloo so you can see a long way. Whatever I was seeing was several hundred yards ahead. Then, suddenly, it registered. It was sunlight pouring over the cornfields and through the trees forming an archway of intensely golden light. All the times I had ridden that path I had never seen it like that before. There in the middle of the archway were two deer. My impulse was to stop and take a picture. I just stopped and took a slow, deep, breath to taste and savor beauty. No photograph can give you that experience.
You know it too. There is beauty everywhere, even in the chaos that ugliness promotes. Taking time to stop and breathe in beauty will also allow us to see more clearly where the chaos is actually coming from, and then do the right things to resolve it.