Woke up this morning very aware of a current assignment that is a logistics challenge. I’m good at logistics and proud of that talent. But I can take that talent to extreme, into a rumination pattern, and live in the question: “what’s the worst that can happen?” So the emotional intelligence muscle-the resilience muscle—and bouncing out of that worrisome question into something more helpful is on my mind. (And maybe the fact that we’re conducting a session on Resilience next month http://www.thechinookinstitute.org/shop/ is helping my preparation for that commitment.) Whatever…
When I walked up the hill this morning with my lawn-chair and chai tea in hand, ready to sit and journal looking out over the valley, I interrupted a female deer breakfasting on blackberries. Suddenly aware of each other the doe and I both did the same thing—we stopped dead in our tracks, eyes riveted on one another, breath held, waiting to see if we would move and whether that movement would be relaxed or not. My hope was that she would go back to her eating. I think she hoped that I would turn around and walk back down the hill so she could refocus on that breakfast of blackberries.
The doe decided to run toward the trees so I marched up to my usual writing spot, and continued my ritual of pondering, looking out over the world, drinking my chai tea, and plunking reflections in my journal. What a gift the distraction of the doe and her worries was. It carried me away from the planning worries that I found myself in this morning! The world always provides a reminder to breathe, and breathe in, the helpful distraction from big and little fears. The trick for me is to accept the moment’s offer.
As I started to write again, I looked up and there was the doe in the corner where those blackberries are ripe. She came back! And she brought her two fawns with her!!!
The doe, looking at me, made that snort that deer make and bounced away again with her fawns following her lead. I think she was teaching her babies to be wary of humans using me as an easy lesson for them.
Being ready for the worst is OK. Planning for contingencies—escape in the case of the doe and her fawns—but bouncing back to the tasks at hand is exercising that resilience muscle. Intentionally toning the muscle by noticing, breathing, and acting with a mundane task is the rep—putting the next foot down, and realizing that’s all that needs to be done right now—“just the next right thing.”
And then maybe a little flexing of the optimism muscle—intentionally expecting safety and resolution as the outcome.I heard the deer bouncing in the trees and couldn’t see them anymore but suspect they were back at the blackberries—eating. The deer teach such good lessons.