This post is from contributor Kristen Hedges.
Some days simply must be spent out on the town. You wake with an itch. A flutter in your ribs and a magnetic pull in your bones that tugs you out onto the sidewalk without any hint as to where you should go, or why, or whom you’re going to meet. It’s as if these days have been woven together by great hands for you to enjoy — the perfect combination of cool air and a warm sky. The stillness between seasons. A blank page.
We began with ten sweet moments in the morning, and then ten more between the sacred, spaghetti sauce speckled walls of your kitchen. Now, you’ll slip on a sweater and pull a knit cap over your hair. The front door opens. You step one foot out, and then the other. Allow yourself to welcome the day into every breathing pore, every changing cell, every little bit and part of you as you seem to cradle the town, warm in your palm, and explore. Melt into the day. Pour your story in ink and color onto the blank page.
All things, when done mindfully — with your absolute presence and love — will become a meditation. Without any effort at all. They will heal you.
You needn’t have anywhere to go. Anyone to see, or a task to complete. Drop all expectations, all preconceived ideas, all mumbling questions in your mind. Today is here to enjoy.
Your journey can both begin and end with a walk. If you only have a few moments, a mindful walk outside is all you need. Bring awareness to your feet. Transform every step into a dance. Skip the sidewalk cracks. Let that be your secret as you find your way to wherever you’re going. Take pleasure in the strange faces you might see. Notice. Notice chipped concrete, grates in the pavement that leak steam. Notice that each town, each city, each neighborhood has a pulse. A steady rising and falling of unique energy. Close your eyes. Can you be so present — so completely there — that you can synchronize your pulse with the throbbing of the sidewalk? The breath of the city?
Explore somewhere new. Push your way along forgotten sidewalks. Move aside every thorny vine, past bush and bramble and books long left with spine’s cracked and pages torn. Hunt for treasure. Find it in the most peculiar of moments; vague things made tangible. A treasure in hushed breath, whispered warnings not heeded, foreign tongues in neighborhoods not your own. Often when we get lost, we find the very part of ourselves that we never expected to be searching for.
Sit in a cafe. Maybe one you’ve never visited. Order a tall drink and give the barista behind the counter a fake name. Something beautiful, like AnneMarie, or Charles, or Flora. Bring your work, if you must. Write a proposal, or finish your presentation, or study for Chemistry from within strange new walls. Break free from the familiarity of your office. Indulge in the subtle, sour smell that stays for a moment when they grind the coffee beans. Hold your mug between grateful hands and smile at the stranger who sits across from you. Invite them in. Make a new connection. A new friend. Or simply watch, writing stories for the faces as they pass.
Visit a bookstore. One full of old books, or of new ones, or both. Surround yourself with paper and stories and scenes from ancient Egypt that have been captured and typed out in ink. Run eager fingers along the spines of a thousand books you’ll never read. Sit down in the aisle and read a chapter from the middle of a novel written by an author you’ve never heard of.
Don’t be afraid to take yourself out to lunch, even if you’re all alone. You deserve it. The occasion doesn’t need to be anything other than today. Ask for the food to go, and take it to a park, or somewhere beautiful. Sit down on a bench, and make that action sacred. That simple act of sitting serves as the bridge between screaming thoughts tearing through your mind like wild, afternoon traffic, and absolute stillness. The here, and the now. In that moment, the bench is all there is. The entire universe rotates in the polished wood and the grass around your feet that someone forgot to trim.
While you’re here, on the bench, or there, pointy elbows resting on a bistro table with your face cradled happily in your palms, you can enjoy the delicious gift of nothing. Often, we feel guilty when there’s nothing etched into our planner or penciled into the day’s schedule. But for once, enjoy the sweetness of the moment. You are no less successful, no less admirable, no more lazy if you spend an afternoon with nothing fogging your mind, nothing tying anxious knots into your belly. For a moment or two, release the commonly flaunted idea that busier is better.
Sometimes, you can make a beautiful meditation from the most common of trips. Slip into your favorite dress and make your weekly grocery run. Ride the shopping cart in the parking lot and slide on the slick soles of your boots along the supermarket floors. Buy yourself flowers because they’re beautiful, and they remind you of the beautiful impermanence of all things, and this makes you adore the moment even more.
More from the 10 sweet little moments series.