Coming Back to Stillness

Skagit Bay mudflats; Larus sp.; Ika Island (Wa...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s amazing what half a pint of crème de leche frozen yogurt, a five-episode marathon of Grey’s Anatomy via Hulu and eight hours of solid sleep wrapped in a warm duvet will do for a woman’s disposition.

It’s not everyone’s first choice cure for over-extension and except for the sustained sleep not particularly healthy – but when I need brain candy only the vast wasteland of computerized television viewing and a dairy-based fat and sugar delivery system will do.  I’m not proud.

Earlier the same day, however, I spent an hour sitting on a bench at Shoreline Park.  The sun was warm, the breeze cool, the tide out.  The mudflats were filled with aquatic birds (and one extremely noisy raven) feeding like gluttons on whatever was free for the picking.

I love watching birds in their natural habitat.  My favorites are the pelicans.  I saw a squadron of fourteen fall into formation and execute perfect three point landings.  They were white with black tipped wings and glowing orange-pouched bills.

My other favorites – the ones that can make me cry sometimes – are the little ones that fly in huge swarms and seem to shape shift in flight. I believe they’re sandpipers. The wings are dark and their underbellies white. As they race through the sky they seem to appear from nowhere and then vanish depending upon how the light has fallen on them.

That hour in the sun was food for my soul.  The hours spent eating frozen yogurt and watching the trials and tribulations on Grey’s?  Not so much.

A few years ago I believed wasting sixty minutes of my life bird watching on a sunny weekday afternoon was pure decadence.  Spending an evening watching television was “relaxation.”

But on Tuesday I embraced both experiences on a day that could have been better. Trust me – burning the candle at both ends really does bite you in the backside eventually.

What did I learn?

The obvious.  An hour outside – even during a workday – beats wrapping myself in a duvet, stuffing my face with ice cream and filling my spirit with the distraction of a bad soap opera. Hands down.


That little bench by the mudflats delivered stillness.   Connection.  It tempered the endless chatter in my mind.  The clarifying peace of that hour allowed me to feel my feelings without judgment.

The lesson?

I’m not ready to give up the occasional binge of ice cream, Hulu and duvet – but I know it won’t nourish me.

For real nourishment – the kind of soulful nourishment that lifts my spirit – I need the sun, the birds, and an hour on the water’s edge.

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