Sometimes we give the last bit of our time and energy to trying to change our minds, when what we need to do is simply rest our bodies…
It’s the first heat wave in our new house.
And, for some reason, the air conditioner won’t turn on.
And I’m out of town, working long hours, getting my new therapy practice up and running. My family’s back home sweating, and I’m at the office putting all my blood, sweat, and tears into this new enterprise. Do I quit early and go home and try to fiddle with the faulty appliance? Or do I stick with my professional obligations and call in other professionals to fix the A/C?
I work until 11pm, travel an hour home, hit Walmart at midnight, install a new thermostat (which still doesn’t fix the problem), and fall into bed for four hours of sweaty sleep before the kids wake up for school. Because my unspoken motto is:
If life throws you lemons, juggle them all day long and finally think about making lemonade when you’re too tired to drink it.
The Inside Depends on the Outside
I write a lot about the importance of what’s on the inside—this soul-thing at the center of us. When we find our center, we find what’s beautiful and, indeed, divine nestled right at the core of us. We find a voice like grace, assuring us we are beloved and we belong. We find our passion, like electricity, sizzling and waiting to be released. We find out our soul is our true self, and we discover this good thing in us is the good thing in everyone else, as well.
But the truth is, the inside of us—this mysterious soul-thing—and the outside of us—this not-so-mysterious flesh-and-blood thing—are intimately connected. Our body is not just some dispensable and inconsequential container; it’s an incubator. It provides the space and the substance in which our true self is nurtured and cultivated.
If we don’t care for the incubator, we are being careless about the brilliant soul it is meant to grow.
The Wisdom of Children
I wake up after four hours of sleep and I’m tired and cranky and of course I am—the body sustains the soul and my body is lacking the sustenance it needs to keep my interior world running smoothly. But I ignore it, because when life turns up the heat on me and I get pushed beyond my limits, I don’t slow down.
I trade sleep for coffee and hustle harder.
The heat wave is intensifying and they’re talking about cancelling the soccer games later in the evening. Which is when I think to myself, “Well, that’s silly, if the kids get hot, they’ll just stop running.”
When our kids get tired and overheated, they just take a knee. They just listen to their bodies and give them the care they need. Is it any wonder their little souls remain so playful? We don’t need to worry about our kids overheating; we need to be concerned about ourselves running hot and refusing to slow down.
At what age do we start silencing our bodies when they’re begging to be cared for?
And at what age will we finally slow down enough to give our incubator a tune up?
Enjoy the Lemonade
Two days later and the heat is still waving.
But, it turns out, the only thing broken about our air conditioner was my ability to find a switch the kids had found and turned off. And the kids did play soccer. But when they got too hot, they asked to sit out for a period, and everyone was still smiling when it was all said and done. And watching them take care of themselves was like a mirror I couldn’t ignore.
So, this morning, when I got home from dropping them off at school, instead of diving right into my writing and my to-do list, I rested on the floor for a few moments. And stretched.
And this afternoon I’m going to meet with a chiropractor to discuss the back pain I’ve been ignoring for a month.
And tonight, I’m going to bed early, with all sorts of important stuff undone.
And already I feel a little less cranky and a little less resentful, because already I’m remembering that, for the most part, I get to decide which lemons I pick up. And the ones I do pick up, I don’t have to juggle frenetically. I can hold them lightly. While lying down. And, when I’m ready, I can slowly begin to squeeze them.
Like children, our souls want to make lemonade.
May our grownup bodies be rested enough to do so. And rested enough to enjoy it.
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