Saturday, July 31, 2010

Late summer begins now

It's one of those funny times. According to the calendar, summer begins in late June and lasts until late September. We are just about halfway through. But that's not how it feels. It feels like summer begins when we watch for the first crocus in February, and it ends when we begin to notice the back-to-school shopping. This long weekend is not Labour Day, not the end of summer. But it is the moment when we are looking at the end as much as we are looking at the summer.

My own August is almost over before it has even begun. I will spend a week on family and preparation, eight days in intensive training, and then two weeks on vacation. And then it will be time to gather my thoughts and prepare for the fall.

There is an art to holding on to time as it enfolds, to living in the time we have and not in the time that will be next. It takes intention and attention to value each day without sacrificing our hope for the future. It takes a deep breath and soft eyes.

Happy August.

p.s. At first I thought I meant the time unfolds. On further reflection, I thought "enfolds" was more precise.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I forgot the water

My head hurts this afternoon. It hurts because I did two dumb things. Probably not what springs to mind.

The first dumb thing I did was to walk too far yesterday with too much weight in my backpack. It was only slightly uncomfortable while I was walking, but if I had been listening to my shoulders, I would have known they were tensing in a way that would make them (and my head) sore today.

The second dumb thing I did was to forget the water. I was late for my session with my trainer, and I ran into the gym without a water bottle. I worked out without water, then showered and set off for a coffee meeting. On the way, I intended to order water with my coffee (there are places in Europe where you always get a glass of water beside your cup of coffee) but I was distracted and ordered the latte without the extra glass of water.

I could say I have a headache, as if it just arrived. But this one is more like a headache I ordered in. It's a direct result of letting myself be just a little uncomfortable for just a little too long.

There are many places in our lives where we admire qualities like being focused on the task at hand instead of personal comfort. I wonder how many of them require that we be just as dumb as I have been today. My head does not ache because I am heroically hard-working. It aches because I ignored signals and made dumb choices.

I going to go pour myself (another) large glass of water.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Patience and will power

If I told you I had a sure fire way for you to be more successful, a way that couldn't fail to improve your relationships, develop your skills and provide you with more money and less frustration, you would want to know more. You would be wondering, 'where do I sign up?'

If I went on to say that you already have the information you would need to evaluate my claim in your own experience, you would be willing to examine that experience as if you were digging for treasure. You would dig deep to know what you have been overlooking that would let you achieve more and suffer less.

If I went even further and told you that this sure-fire, can't-possibly-fail formula would also allow you to have a powerful influence on everyone with whom you connect, you would be ready to put that formula to work right away, wouldn't you?

Except that if you read the title to this post, you know that the first three paragraphs are true. You know that the combination of will power and patience has already paid benefits to you in the past and would yield more benefits if you put it in place now. You know that everyone who has had a powerful positive influence on you was a model of will power in combination with patience.

So why aren't you focused on developing this powerful combination?

Monday, July 05, 2010

It's too damn hot

It's a great puzzle that there is no opposite to a snow day. If you are reading this from somewhere that doesn't ever get snow, you don't know the wonder of an unexpected opportunity to stay home and disconnect. When there is a sudden dump of a large amount of snow, the world gets hushed and lovely and everyone stays where they are or goes for a walk to admire a world turned playful.

Why doesn't this happen in summer? Today is as hot as snow days are cold. It's a day that reminds us that we don't really have total control of our climates. It's a good day for a sprinkler and a cold drink and . . . work.

It's a work day. Because we do not have snow days in the summer. In the summer, some people are on holidays and some people are working and there is no mixing them up. We sit at our computers in too-hot offices or too-air-conditioned offices and wish we were somewhere peaceful instead. There is no summer beauty that reminds us that the whole world is covered by a single blanket, that as we work away in our little spaces we are all part of something wide and wonderful.

Until the evening. Because there will be a time, later this evening, when the kids and the dogs and the grandparents and even the rushed, cranky workers who are neither young or old - all of them will suddenly go out to catch the hint of cool in the evening breeze. And little people will stay up late, and bigger people will remember the long, long summer days when they were little.

And we will all be part of something a little bit wonderful again.