After times of stress, it’s far too easy to get caught up in what’s wrong with life, and forget to see the beauty all around us.
I learned this lesson days after the floods here in Colorado as I traumatized myself over and over again focusing on destroyed hiking trails, roads swallowed up by earth, and the tragic loss of homes throughout our forever changed landscape.
I started to view everything as now ruined and wrong, and I viewed the world around me through cloud covered glasses.
After days of rain and flooding, I drove to a favorite hiking trail seeking solace since nature is my church, and I needed to pray- but it was gone. My favorite trail was closed, not closed for safety’s sake, but washed out and gone.
I sat inside my car and sobbed for an hour. Everything inside of me had finally broken loose and I felt the loss for our community. As I sat puffy eyed and red faced in the middle of the parking lot, I realized it was going to be a long haul towards feeling better if I continued to focus on what was wrong, instead of what still remained right in the world.
Seeking some semblence of normalcy, I returned home to the small patch of nature in my back yard, pulled out my lawn mower and found myself crying all over again as I mowed the damp grass. Not because I hated mowing, but because the mundane was suddenly holy. I was grateful to feel the earth below my feet again, grateful I still had a yard, and grateful the rain had stopped. It was ordinary and routine, yet mowing delivered me back to a time before the flooding had started~it was a touchstone pointing me back towards ordinary times before drama had pulled into town.
Later in the week after witnessing more destruction, I found myself feeling blue as I wondered how in the world our city would recover to its former state of beauty. Seeking some open sky to land my heart and my feet, I drove to one of the few open trails east of town near a lake. This trail sits along a highway, is nothing particularily special to look at, and is one of those places you visit when you don’t have a lot of time but need to walk your dog…yet on this day, the sky was a cloudless blue, the sun was shining and the lake was filled to its shores. The cottonwoods had started to morph their leaves into a glowing yellow, and the sun danced brightly on the water as my dog paddled along the shores~ tail wagging and lips pulled into a sloppy grin every time she made eye contact with me.
I’d been in this place a zillion times before, but in that moment suddenly everything was extraordinary in my world. As I looked around, it was as if the floods had never happened. 3 minutes away by car, the flood damage was everywhere, but in this spot, in this moment, life was beautiful and the surroundings were perfect. I realized after times of stress we become conditioned to look for what’s wrong instead of what’s right, and if we don’t stop ourselves, this pattern of thinking becomes habit and sadly, this habit becomes our life.
I remembered once again for the millionth time, that happiness is a choice. Life can throw us all sorts of crap, but the smart ones know how to scoop it up and make fertile compost.
When the ordinary is turned upside down, and we continue to look for the beauty in our world regardless of circumstance, life becomes extraordinary.