The Placid Lake

There's a lake not too far from our house. My wife and I love to walk there and do so nearly daily. If we have old bread we feed it to the fish, turtles and occasional seagull or crow. Oftentimes, there is no one there at the little beach or on the boardwalk.

When there are no boaters and the wind is holding its breath, the hush of the water mirrors the sky above and the house and trees on the other side of the lake. It reminds me of my many years "up north" where the temperatures froze the pond water for us college students to skate or play hockey. There was a solid stillness that made the ice seem as if it were a mirage.

What's real and not merely a mirage is that the calmer you are inside, the more you are able to reflect back that stillness outside of you.

In 2004 I went on sabbatical and spent a month in a cabin in upstate New York. Perhaps I was trying to channel my inner Henry David Thoreau, but there were whole days when I was able to sit, meditate, be still and just notice things. I suppose if someone saw me they might have perceived a man"wasting time." I'll admit it was a luxury few people have or use. What was not a waste was trying to widdle away the parts of me that had become fragmented and couldn't find a place to fit- churning waters which betrayed unsettled depths.

One day, sitting on the porch after scrumptious porridge, I spied a black bear at most two hundred yards away. For 30 minutes, either not smelling me (they have poor eyesight) or not caring, the bear loped along in its own world nibbling berries by the stream. And then--as quickly as it came into view--it disappeared into the thicket.

Don't you find that, when you take the time to stop and be still or just slow down and pause with a cup of coffee or slice of apple, you're better able to see beyond the morass of chaos into the ordinary, beautiful--sometimes shockingly simple--exhilarations of just living and breathing?

Hey, if you missed my Zoominar (October 14th) on "How to Be Your Own Life Coach", you can rent or buy it here.