It is a bright beautiful day after 3 solid days of rain. I sit on the roof of my truck with nothing to do but wait for my husband to return with his team from scouting a waterfall. Lunch is bubbling away on the fire, bread is freshly baked, made more exciting by sprigs of rosemary and sliced olives tucked into its warm creases.
I have a choice. What to do with my time - beautify myself on the outside or beautify myself on the inside. I reach for the mirror, the tweezers, cotton wool and face toner. I see my face gazing back at me. I feel life has been kind, years of sunshine and parties seem to be hidden quite well beneath a tan. Or maybe they are hidden behind a life well enjoyed and lived fully. Grey hairs stand to attention though, drawing me away from the smile lines. Do I begin by plucking out those or the eyebrows? I start with the grey hairs. It’s addictive, I pluck one and then another. A thrill of joy as they leave my scalp along with a slight wince of pain. The more I part my hair, the more I see. Rivers of grey trickling along the top of my head. It becomes obsessive…each one I remove seems to be replaced by another. As a nest grows in my hand of tugged out hair, I switch to my face. Finding pleasure in the neatening and tidying of my eyebrows. Noticing, thankfully there are no grey ones here. Time slips by in this fashion. Me, making myself prettier, conforming to the norm, holding onto my youth, hiding my age behind my mask. How many of us do this? Forget about the wisdom and maturity that come with experience and get sucked into appearance and looking younger.
Its lunch time I emerge feeling happy with my morning, time well spent – climb down from my perch to serve lunch. Cooked (over a fire - I made) vegetable, barley and bean soup with butter melting on freshly sliced, freshly made bread. The team are thrilled by my offering and genuinely appreciative. They feel loved and well cared for, their bellies are warm and bodies already recovering from the mornings efforts. This matters, not what I look like. Do they see that now I no longer have grey hair springing from my parting?– does anyone notice? Does anyone care? Not here by the river. Maybe in the city, where I grew up, life is different. We have standards to meet, fashion to keep up with, diets to follow, trends to stay in touch with, the chitter chatter of our peers judging and labeling
But wouldn't my time have been better spent beautifying the inside. Clearing my head, counting my breath, watching a spider spin a web, bringing my focus and awareness to a single point rather then getting lost in the myriad of thoughts that rapidly come to my mind, when I can focus on one thing only I am living in the present moment but that takes effort whoever thought meditation is sitting still doing nothing has never tried meditation. I could have at least acknowledged those crazy thoughts, the chatter, laughing at them, letting them pass and embracing the stillness between the thoughts. Wouldn’t my hours be better spent less bothered by my reflection in a mirror and more bothered by the reflection of a bird in flight over the river. Working on the outside is so much easier then working on the inside.
I roll out my mat, experience tells me it is time to practice.
I inhale, extend my arms to the sky bringing life into the moment
I exhale, forward fold, surrendering to grace
I inhale extend my spine and look up. Connecting with what is real and what matters.
I exhale hands to the earth, jump back into chatturanga
Inhale up dog; acceptance, contentment, kindness
Exhale down dog, I have arrived home