I Am Slowly Learning To Appreciate The Shifts


The river moves across the sands to meet the ocean. She wraps around her own carved hills, moving her way into the welcoming waves of the infinite blue distances. Full and also empty, the ebb and flow that manages the shapes of the city around her. Santa Cruz, the sights, the sounds, the buildings standing so straight and still as life trickles around the banks.

Quiet in the morning, only the birds in the water flapping their wings and settling down to float casually in the foggy reflections of the sky. There are a few souls stirring in the morning, a few moments of the night before stumbling down sidewalks. With the cool breeze coming down the mountainside, making its way towards the open sea, the sun begins to poke its head out from behind the clouds to warm the ground.

I find myself alone. Quiet, waiting for my thoughts to begin charging through my head. I find ways to play out fantasies and hypotheticals, wondering how much of it I can will into reality. Attempting to settle into the moment, I imagine submerging into the watery depths for all to be lost in the stillness, in the life below the surface. I don’t want my thoughts to take over, to drown me in my own misconceptions and dream state. Too many thoughts will leave me heavy when really what I want to do is swim on. To float in some tranquil state.

With a few more breaths, I continue moving forward. Noticing the symphony of the morning songs that trickle in and out with the breeze down from the trees. The neighborhood cats crawl up and over curbs, nonchalantly making their way home from a night out. A few will stop as I kneel down, brushing up against my legs as I pet their backs. Tails raised, they purr for a few moments, casting their stares out into the distance, intrigued by the morning light and life that’s beginning to awaken.

Each step is a breath. A chance to notice the flowers and their colors, their delicacy and also their courage. Simple, listening, tuned in. And I feel the anxiety within me, bursting from some seams, wanting to be released and for an answer to be made clear. As if something is supposed to give in these trying times. Wondering if one day I am going to wake up and there will be a shift in the landscape, coming out sideways and speeding up again. I find my doubts beginning to bubble up and the cynicism that this will go on for a while. This quiet, this emptiness, this distance. When the world seems to be at a standstill, and for so many blurred weeks, a girl just needs a hug.

It’s the lack of control and lack of certainty that gets under my skin when I am alone with my thoughts, wandering the empty streets before the rest of the world has stepped outside. I want to be heard. I want to be felt. I want to connect and find stillness without rules and fears about what I can and cannot do. I recognize that this is one step at a time. I wrap myself up in heavy blankets and push pillows against the curves of my body to find comfort. I exhale during phone calls and teleconferences to relish in pixelated screens and communicated intricacies.

The routine helps a lot. Waking up early with the sunrise, feeling the floor underneath my feet and finding ways to exercise my body and mind each day. Moments of stillness, watching the clouds pass by and the breeze flow through the grasses give me solace. That today is like any other and tomorrow will be, too. The differences we see now are initiating life in a whole new manner. And there is beauty in this new softness.

The morning bird songs last longer. As the dark blacks turn into blues, I hear the crashing of the ocean waves traveling through the blocks, echoing around wooden homes to reach my resting head. Fewer cars are adding to the distinct daytime noise. And I get to take more time to simply be at home and appreciate the stillness. Appreciating what I have.

I am connecting longer and more deeply with myself. I am connecting more deeply with those I love across distances. Words have new meaning and facial expressions are more interesting to watch. Going slower gives space to appreciating more. There’s less rush in getting somewhere and doing something. And when I can savor, when I wholly present, I am happiest. I recognize my feelings as they come and as they are. Kissed by the sunshine, hugged by the ocean and deeply embraced by the forests, I step into more of a loving exploration and curiosity when I get outside. Riding the bicycle of balance, I am both moving and stillness. I am grounded and also able to fly.

With the fears of uncertainty growing like black clouds on the horizon, I submerge for moments under the depths. Letting go of the far off and focusing on what’s around me. It is a flow state. The river mouth doesn’t always open and pour out in the same place every day. Sometimes there is more to say and at others, it is a cool trickle. It isn’t planned, the way that she moves. It depends on what comes in, what needs to go out and whether or not the sky decides to cry that day. While some will not cross her depths, others splash in her waters with laughter.

So when those moments of anxiety build, the thoughts that want to pull me deep down under as if there are cement blocks around my feet, I remember that I adapt like the fish in the sea, like the resilient mother ocean who comes and calls the water to her depths. The path of least resistance. When the sun shines, when the river reflects the parting sky, I turn around and head home, knowing that the day will unfold as it should and I along with it.