I close the clasp and snap it into place. Then I toss my feather pillow and inspirational book-of-choice onto it. I’ve been waiting all year for this.
As I maneuver my way into my 18-year old hammock, I secretly thank it for holding up for so long. I’m not really sure how it will be when I can no longer relax in what feels like an old friend. I wind a fraying cotton fiber around my finger and instantly I am back in the Costa Rican market where I bought her for a steal. We’ve been together so long, surely she deserves a name. She feels like a Rita to me. “Thanks for being my bliss, Rita”, I say.
Laying there, swaying gently in the breeze, I take a moment to feel gratitude and joy for everything that is so right in my life at this moment. I hear the mix of loon song and the choir of leaves rustling in the wind all around me. In the distance I can hear my children laugh as they explore the forest. With my eyes closed, I take a deep breath and hold it for a second wishing I could bottle this feeling.
What is it about being quiet in nature that dissolves a person’s cares and worries so effortlessly? Why is it that a swing in a favored hammock or a soak in a warm bath can relax and quiet a busy mind almost instantly?
My very best crack at answering questions like these has everything to do with the present moment. With deliberate occasions like a bath or a stolen minute in a hammock we go in with every intention of relaxing. In those moments we take a deep breath and just ‘be’. We feel the creak of our bones and the warmth of the water. We hear the song on the wind and the tiny pops of the bath bubbles. We enjoy the stress release and feel grateful for a moment of peace.
Most importantly we give ourselves permission to forget, if only for a moment, all the ‘should dos’ and the ‘could haves’. We release ourselves from the tight grip of schedules and to-do lists. We forget the tough conversations we have been rehearsing for days, put down the baggage of the past, and take a break from all our future-planning.
It is in these moments that it feels like our soul comes out to play. It dances a little and rejoices at simply ‘being’. Not ‘doing’ or ‘thinking’ or ‘caring’ or ‘worrying’ – just simply existing in the now. Suddenly our senses have license to flex their muscles. We feel things more deeply. We hear things more crisply. We see things we don’t normally notice. Life is more vibrant because it isn’t overshadowed by our inner chatter that has us so strongly stuck in the past or wishing for the future.
I have come to realize that all I have is the present moment. The past is gone and the future is an illusion. So the only real thing I can hold onto is what I am ‘being’ in this moment now.
And what I am being is always a choice – a pretty darn important one in fact.