Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘awareness

Great Indoors

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You know the saying. It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. I don’t know what phenomena might be pushing the local dew point temperatures to extremely tropical levels, but it is driving our heat index into the triple digits again. I’m not a fan.

At the same time, I really don’t have much to gripe about. The workplace indoor temperatures are air-conditioned down to a level that keeps my arms cold all day in a short-sleeved shirt. From there, I step out to my car and turn on the AC for the long drive home. Our house is perfectly comfortable with the geothermal system making great use of that constant underground temperature in the upper 50s(F).

Of course, this works because I’m done with the time sensitive chores outside, enabling me to pick and choose whether I’ll go out and deal with the immediate elements, or avoid them.

It makes it difficult to pay true attention to the present moment. I’m off in some other world, down a maze of insignificant Reddit posts like hatted cats pawing attention-getting bells to trigger repeated delivery of a treat, or highlight videos of soccer players tangling for a header where one uprights the other and then guides his flip to a full rotation that lands the opponent upright again before ever crashing to the ground.

Cute, but basically mindless, compared with what is available in and around the space where I’m breathing.

Yesterday evening, I was describing my June week of biking and camping to a visitor and reminded myself of how in-the-moment that activity can be. We are out in the elements all day, sleeping on the ground in tents all night. Breathing the air, inhaling the scents, hearing the birds and freight trains.

We notice everything about the wind.

When I’m not biking, I pay no attention to what direction the wind is blowing. Why do I neglect to notice?

My habit of not truly being fully present in a moment allows for obliviousness to that kind of detail. My mind can wander to expectations of watching the World Cup final on Sunday, or mulling over imagined reasons why our 4 acres of hay-field have yet to be cut by the neighbor who, back in the beginning of June, volunteered so to do.

In my comfortable car during the long commute, lately I’ve been listening to deep cuts from my library of music, allowing it to carry me off to distant rekindled memories or fantasies of mastering my own version of various enticing songs.

I’m thankful I don’t have to be out in the heat, but at the same time, I regret how my avoidance accommodates a distancing from the realities of the present moment.

I take some solace in having just sweated through every layer of several sets of grubby clothes over the recent three days of heaving hundreds of hay bales. We were reasonably enmeshed in the moment for those hours of each day.

There is some balance there… and, always an opportunity to strive for better attention to the immediate pleasures of the artificial environment of a comfortably conditioned “great indoors.”

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Little Details

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In the slogging day to day of experiences that are hardly noteworthy, little details can become a surprise of noteworthiness. You can’t plan it. Things just happen. The greatest value is in simply noticing when happenings happen.

Yesterday, I was walking Delilah along one of our oft treaded trails when I suddenly felt this child-like urge to toy with her as obsessively fixated on some scent. I dropped to my knees in the snow and put my head next to her, excitedly asking her what she was smelling.

She seemed a little taken aback by my odd behavior, but carried on sniffing when she saw I was just joining her in the action. I zeroed in and put my nose right at the slightly discolored spot she had been checking.

Nothing, nothing, nothing, OH MY!

Skunk!

I smelled a faint, but very identifiable scent of a skunk.

Maybe if I would put my nose to the ground in the same manner that dogs do, I would gain a much greater understanding of why she reacts the way she does on our daily treks around our land.

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Written by johnwhays

February 18, 2018 at 10:44 am

Grazing Again

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There is a jarring amount of stupid that is getting mixed in with the amazing and sacred energy to which we have access these days. It all flows right over the top of us. We dash headstrong into it. It sashays past when we aren’t paying attention. Sometimes it just lays there and waits to be noticed.

The brilliant, the inspiring, the spectacular light of pure love, and then some dingy gunk getting smeared around with reckless abandon.

Have you ever noticed how some people are able to move through the gunk without allowing it to leave a mark, while others end up covered with it? There are some from the latter distinction who even thrive on the mess and seek out more.

All this energy, the good and the other, is like the air we breath. Many people don’t ever think about breathing, and similarly, many people don’t pay attention to the energy, both from within as well as from other sources.

It is very helpful to notice energy if you are interested in becoming teflon to the gunk.

However, it usually takes more than just noticing. I recently enjoyed some success using what we learned from our horses, along the lines of getting “back to grazing.”

After any of our horse’s many instances of practicing critical evacuation maneuvers when they run emergency response drills, they have a remarkable ability to quickly return to grazing, as if nothing dramatic had just occurred. It’s a skill that I have come to cherish.

It’s a skill I would like to master for myself.

I’ve been practicing, and when I am successful, it works wonders. Consciously choosing to instantly give up whatever just triggered a critical response, and becoming fully aware of my breathing and energy –to return to love and a healthy mindset– is truly life-changing.

Yeah, teflon to the gunk.

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Written by johnwhays

November 17, 2017 at 7:00 am

Incredible Awareness

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It is common to hear the term “watchdog” for a dog that guards property, but I’m finding our “lookout horses” surprisingly valuable in alerting me to activity on our perimeter. Over time, my interpretation of their equine reaction to the environment has changed from one of superiority to one of much more humble respect.

I used to think the silly horses were just being hyper-sensitive when they startled over triggers to which I was oblivious. My response early on was to try to assure the horses that there was nothing to worry about. Like I knew better than them.

With enough repetition, I began to learn that I was not more fully aware of reality than they were.

Last week, as I was beneath the overhang, the horses suddenly all turned around and looked out in the exact same direction. My eye quickly spotted the movement of our neighbor on his riding lawnmower. Chuckling at their intensity over this innocuous activity, I spoke to assure them the mower wasn’t worth the attention.

Yet they didn’t sway from their focus. I stood with them and watched the mower, barely visible through some trees, and suddenly movement in the much closer cornfield caught my eye.

The horses weren’t looking at the mower at all.

I had a split-second view of a good-size deer as it hopped over corn stalks.

I’m still learning.

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Written by johnwhays

October 29, 2017 at 9:49 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Sad Face

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We are still waiting for significant signs of improvement in Delilah, but whatever is causing her sharp pain –even though she is simply lying on the floor or in her crate overnight– it appears to be more intense than the drugs she is on.

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Since Cyndie is trained to administer Tellington TTouch, she is offering Delilah more than just the pain killers prescribed by the vet, but our poor dog still finds ways to move that triggers involuntary vocal response of acute discomfort.

That is so too familiar to me and my degenerating discs. We have inquired with the vet about a local dog chiropractor and I’ve been wondering if Delilah would tolerate accupuncture. It helped to ease my discomfort.

There have been a couple of encouraging glimpses of Delilah’s old self appearing, but thus far they are too few and far between to allow us much release from the ongoing stress of knowing an animal in our care is suffering.

I’m looking at this as a way to help me slow down my perception of the ever-faster passing of days. With October looming large and the standing order to keep Delilah completely inactive for two weeks, I’m hoping the days will drag for a while.

It’s not my preferred way to slow down the days, but already it feels like our sad dog has been hurting for far too long. The next two weeks are going to take forever if we can’t let her have her usual luxuriously long walks.

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Written by johnwhays

September 30, 2017 at 8:12 am

Stepping Out

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It it possible to pull into our driveway and roll past the barn and horses with hardly a notice when they have tucked themselves under the overhang. You can make your way to the house and get inside where a comfy chair awaits, plop your butt down and prop your feet up for the rest of the night, never having any sense of what is going on outside.

I know this, because I’ve done it.

With Cyndie able-bodied again, it is possible for me to come in the house after work and crash on the recliner while she takes Delilah out for a walk and tends to the evening horse chores. When I am over-tired, it is a real blessing, but it comes with a cost.

Just a day or two away from a walk in our woods and visiting with the horses creates a surprising disconnect from the healthy flow of energy each provides.

Like so many things, I became aware of this yesterday when I needed to cover for Cyndie’s absence when I got home from work. It’s not hard to do, once you get the body in motion. After a quick change of clothes, I was out the door to retrieve Delilah from her kennel in the back yard and off we went, exploring the trails that are a strange mix this time of year. They are snowy, though melting, getting muddy around the edges, yet still frozen just below the surface.

It was a function of being out of the house again that made me realize how insulating it can be when I remain inside.

After a tour of a few trails, Delilah and I made our way to the barn. The herd was wonderfully calm and serene. I did my best to match their energy and control my excitement to walk among them again.

After I had cleaned up the area and served their afternoon feed, I paused to capture a snapshot of the landscape showing the mixture of turf and melting snow cover. Dezirea must have sensed I was standing there and poked her head out from beneath the overhang to check on me.

I was happy to include her in the shot.

You can see she is sporting a fashionable facial mud mask that she applied all by herself.

I returned to the seclusion of indoors with a renewed energy of having paid a precious visit to the paradise that is always ready and waiting. All we need to do is step into it.

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Written by johnwhays

March 16, 2017 at 6:00 am

Leisure Happens

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I may describe most of our activities as exclusively focused on one project or another around here, but our days are not entirely void of occasional leisurely pursuits.

IMG_iP1615eFrom the driver’s seat of my car as I approached the house yesterday after work, I noticed instantly that Cyndie had put up one of our hammocks. I wondered if I had failed to pay attention to her plans to host visitors. Why else would she be putting out our “accessories?”

Inside, I spotted a string of horse-shaped lights she had hung across the mantel over the fireplace, and figured something must definitely be up.

She came in from the barn and said that it was such a nice day with a wonderful summery wind blowing, she put up the hammock for us to lounge and enjoy. It was for us to use! Imagine that.

I asked about the string of horses on the mantel. She told me those had been up since her workshop two weeks ago.

Color me oblivious.

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Written by johnwhays

August 23, 2016 at 6:00 am