The other evening I was feeling itchy to get outside and move my body. It’s been gray and wet here in Seattle (no surprise, really, but it’s amazing how impacted I am by the gloom every year and surprise myself by my lethargy) and one evening when it wasn’t raining, I decided to take a walk in my neighborhood. My body was aching for exercise. Has this ever happened to you? So many hours inside reading, watching movies, and sitting in front of the computer made my body scream for movement.
And while it was dark and cold, I decided to venture out even so. (I realize as I write this that many people take walks or exercise in the dark evenings in the Northwest or wherever it is they live; my revelation about going outside in the dark just shows how cooped up I’ve been!) I walked to Roosevelt High School, the neighborhood school, and also the place where my father worked for almost thirty years. I feel close to my dad when I walk the Roosevelt track, so I headed that way — to listen to my body and to hang out with my dad’s energy — solid, strong, present.
On the way there, I noticed I was beginning to have peripheral vision (goodness, I have sure been in tunnel vision mode, haven’t I?!) and I noticed the shadows of several leafless trees against the cement wall of the school. I stopped my fast-paced walk and took these photos with my cell phone. People walking by seemed curious as to my attention to the shadows, but I found these tree shadows to be the most beautiful things I have seen all year. Even without their leaves — and even in street-light projected shadow form — these trees represented LIFE to me. Hunkering down inside for weeks was sure cozy, but I was missing out on the consistency of change happening outside. I was missing out on the energy of possibility inherent in these Tree Shadows, my new friends. After all, I’ve been feeling a bit leafless and brittle lately. A little naked. Ah, Tree Shadows, we are kin!
It’s amazing what a little spontaneous walk and some peripheral vision will do to re-charge the body and spirit. At least I found this to be true. If you find that you are hunkered down this winter and have a bit of self-preservation tunnel vision, try doing something differently. Maybe it’s not a walk (because, unlike me, you’re already doing that!), but a trip to a museum or an art store, a bundled up picnic by the ocean, a puddle-jumping dance in the parking lot, or even a more conscious look at the sky when you are outside. Even though gray, that sky is still wide and wondrous. Imagine what’s behind that thick layer of gray. Maybe a rainbow or even robin’s egg blue. An on evenings like my Tree Shadow walk, imagine the stars behind that ceiling of clouds; they are sparkling even if you can’t see them and you are sparkling even though you may not know it yet.