A friend recently suggested that I should “feel” more, noting that I tend to analyze everything to the point of paralysis. I’m a thinker, for sure, but perhaps they were right — I had been neglecting my feelings.
In my efforts to identify my feelings, I often find myself analyzing my thoughts. But that’s not feeling. It seems my feelings have been safely stored away for some time now.
Yesterday, having been a bit under the weather, some fresh air and new scenery seemed like a wonderful idea. I decided to head to a peaceful place near the water’s edge, where I could work on a project that involved some reading. I went to a park with a lake, found a quiet bench, and planted myself for the next couple hours.
Several chapters in, with blurry eyes, I set down the book and notepaper, and settled myself in for a little “feeling” session, in hopes of finding some piece of myself that has been missing.
I began by closing my eyes and feeling with my skin. I noticed how the breeze felt on my body. The temperature was cool, but not cool enough to chill. It felt good. I became aware of what parts were hurting or tense and tried to relax them. I made myself as comfortable as I could on the park bench.
I took my time, slowing down my hurried tendency, letting the experience simply happen on its own.
Next, I considered my taste buds. I was thirsty, but still had the hint of my recent peach smoothie in my mouth. I took a drink of water and felt it refresh.
What could I smell? Nothing, really — maybe a hint of the lake and its residents. I expected that smell to be stronger, but maybe I’d gotten used to it already. Maybe the cool breeze carried away the scents.
I closed my eyes and listened. Off in various directions, I could hear the chatter of clusters of birds sharing their stories with one another, interrupted now and again by quacking. There was road noise, both from the nearby freeway and the rough paved road that circles the park. I listened closely for sounds of children playing — I knew there was a playground not far away. Perhaps the cool breeze carried their laughter away with the scents. There was just an occasional sound from the parking lot right behind me.
Overall, it was surprisingly quiet. I allowed myself extra time here — there was no need to rush — I was just beginning to really grasp what I was trying to do.
I’ve always appreciated the beauty of nature and architecture. Looking around me, I could see both. I noticed the symmetry of the painted-red windows on the crisp white boat house. I searched the sky for blue showing through the gray-white clouds, though I couldn’t find much.
I observed the way the palm trees had been planted, sometimes in pairs, sometimes in clusters, and across the way, a long row of singles. I see how they wave in the breeze. They are always in motion. Sometimes a breeze may push them around, but even without the breeze they constantly sway.
Yet…they don’t sway in unison. Every palm tree has its own rhythm, moving independently from the others as if they dance to their own music. I wonder why I never noticed that before…
And everything I see, I see in double, reflected in the distorted mirror of the water’s surface.
A duck swims by, leaving a V-shaped wake behind him, that widens with time until it meets the edges on either side of the lake. One small duck, going about his humble business, simultaneously impacting opposing shores…unaware.
Several little circles of ripples reveal the whereabouts of those ducks playing under the water’s surface until they pop up and right themselves. Some sit quietly, while others move about the lake.
“How do you feel about that duck?” I ask myself. Not what do I think of the duck, but how I feel about it. I feel…happy about that duck. It makes me smile.
I check in with myself again, “Do you feel lonely right now?” No, in fact, I don’t. I am enjoying the solitude of the afternoon. This is alone, but not lonely.
I ask God to search me. He knows my heart better than I know it myself. “If there is any trace of bitterness, show me,” I ask Him.
I wasn’t surprised that He found a tender spot of that hiding in there. So we dealt with it, together, He and I.
And I cried a little.
Because I felt like it.
Cindy White is a freelance copywriter and lover of word-craft. She appreciates comments and feedback and encourages sharing.