The In-Between

How is it that you travel? By plane? Car? Bike? Foot? I came across the following quote by Edward Abbey:

There are some good things to be said about walking. Not many, but some. Walking takes longer, for example, than any other known form of locomotion except crawling. Thus it stretches time and prolongs life. Life is already too short to waste on speed. I have a friend who’s always in a hurry; he never gets anywhere. Walking makes the world much bigger and thus more interesting. You have time to observe the details. The utopian technologists foresee a future for us in which distance is annihilated. … To be everywhere at once is to be nowhere forever, if you ask me.
— Edward Abbey

It strikes me that life happens in-between. We set a goal; the achievement is just a moment in time, but the process of getting there, that is life. To see the landscape change, to place the mountains in the context of the grassy plains that give way to upward thrusting rock, we gain greater appreciation for their massive shape. To experience our own expanding emotions after depths of sadness, we gain greater trust in our own flexible natures. To move slowly enough to notice the changes… how often do we do this?

We want to hop the plane, skim the cliff notes, scroll to the highlights. But when we are only present for the destination, we lose sight of the pulsing nature of life, the fact that it has rhythm, that nothing is permanent, that it moves in cycles that are never exactly the same. If we can learn to be present in the cycles, perhaps we will resist them less, and open ourselves to trusting that life will keep moving and we will not be abandoned to the moment of pain, or have to cling to the joyful times out of fear of never having them again.

Even in the heat of summer, when life is bursting forth and we find our bodies drawn to activity, were we able to slow down enough to be present in-between? To feel the breeze, to bear witness to the changing landscape, to look up from our screens and move our bodies in the warm night air. To see the stages of the moon as it moves above us. To let the waves lap our feet long enough for our feet to be buried in sand. 

And now as the days shorten and we move between seasons, what would it take to hear the sounds of change? Perhaps a new practice, or a renewal and recommitment to an existing practice… A practice can provide the structure or container needed to enable the embodiment of the “in-between.”

If this sounds too theoretical, here are some more specific invitations:

  • Delay the morning screen time in order to stretch your body, even if only for five minutes.

  • Bike to work (or the store, or your friend’s house, or anywhere!) instead of driving.

  • Walk the dog instead of going to the dog park and taking work calls (look for ways to cut out the “multi-tasking”).

  • Notice the colors in the produce section.

  • Try 5 minutes of meditation with Insight Timer first thing in the morning.

  • Take a walk after dinner.

  • Ask your partner/friend/family member a question about their day, and then listen to the silence as they formulate an answer… 

  • Practice allowing space for your own silence when answering a question.