It’s been a month of soaring temperatures and oppressive heat. Even with the blinds closed and several fans running, my apartment is sweltering. The only solution is to head outside in search of shade and the faint hope of catching a breeze.
My apartment opens onto a covered patio so finding shade wasn’t a problem but the available seating left a great deal to be desired. But that’s where my sister, the Garage Sale Guru, the Diva of Dumpster Diving came to my rescue.
She’d recently plucked a rather sad-looking bamboo and wicker sofa from someone’s front lawn. Don’t worry, she didn’t steal it, the owners had stuck a free sign on it before my sister scooped it up and shoved it in the back of her truck.
Its coat of glossy black paint was peeling off, there were no cushions and a few of the wicker wraps on the back and arms had started to unravel. I gave it a good cleaning and fixed the broken pieces. As for cushions, we snagged them for under forty dollars, sixty percent off, as the store was already putting out its back to school merchandise (this was in July).
At first I labeled this wonderful piece of furniture the Couch of Procrastination because as soon as I’d settle into it, time would disappear and I would find myself daydreaming while watching the bees dance with the flowers in the back yard.
But the word procrastination conjured up feeling of guilt; that in sitting in this wonderful space I was somehow being lazy. I was wasting time when there were more important things that needed my attention; laundry, housecleaning, this month’s blog, hitting my daily word count on my current novel.
Then I remembered a quote from Socrates, “Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” Somehow I’d forgotten the value of being instead of constantly doing. Its only when you are really clear on what is important in your life, what fulfills you, can you lead a meaningful life. And the only way to figure that out is to be. Be with yourself, and your thoughts and your fears. When you dig deeper that is when the real richness of your life can come forward.
Now more than ever, we need to disconnect with the digital world and step out of the rush of modern society. When you aren’t distracting yourself with tweets, Facebook updates and pinning images on Pinterest or rushing about to-and-from work or dashing out to do some retail therapy, something wondrous creeps in. Silence.
And once the silence has established itself it allows you to finally hear that still quiet voice of your authentic self.
There is a reason why even cloistered monks and nuns set time aside for silent prayer and meditation. Only in quiet contemplation can one begin to know God, or Buddha or the intelligent consciousness of the Universe. Without that sacred space of silence, we who live in the secular world can lose our centre and get way off track in our quick-fix, instant gratification society. Our purpose for being gets lost under the barrage of advertising, consumerism and distraction.
If you build it he will come.
Or in my case if you arrange some second-hand furniture unexpected magic may happen. And to ensure that this little corner of the patio nurtures the alchemy of the soul I’ve imposed a few rules; no iPods, portable DVD players or cellphones allowed and the laptop comes out only when I need it for writing.
What is allowed are books, journals, sketch books, cold drinks, fresh flowers, something delicious to eat, and a soft pillow in case the urge to have a nap overtakes me.
It really is an adult play space were daydreaming, reading, lounging, napping and reconnecting with family and friends are fostered.
So I encourage you, while we still have a few weeks of lazy summer days left, to find an outdoor spot and install your own Chesterfield of Dreams. It doesn’t even have to be a sofa, perhaps a hammock is more your style or a chaise lounge. And if you don’t have the furniture already and dumpster diving isn’t your thing even a blanket and some pillows arranged under the spreading arms of a tree would be just fine. Whatever appeals to you. If you set up your spot for reflection without delay, I promise you, you too will begin to experience the magic of being.