Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Place in the Shade

We moved to Arizona a few months ago.  Boy it’s hot down here!  Actually I knew that as I had lived here before but I had forgotten just how intense it gets and how it feels.  You never really get used to it but you do learn some ways to live with it and how to readjust your priorities to maintain your “cool”….so to speak

One part of life that becomes a concern is driving.  A car with good air conditioning is a must.  When I lived here before I spent two whole summers without it.  I don’t know how I survived but I did.  I drank many huge “Gulp” drinks a day and said lots of prayers for green lights so I didn’t have to sit in the sweltering heat waiting for them to change.  This time around I am SO grateful to have a car with good A/C.

A related concern is parking.  When you get back in your car that has been parked in the sun for a hour or more and the thermometer reads 120 degrees plus, you know there will be an uncomfortable delay until the A/C gets going enough to bring it down to a tolerable level.

So it becomes very important to grab a piece of shade for your car whenever you can.  That makes searching for that shade a top priority when you enter a parking lot or need a place on the street.

When I go to the gym, there is a line of trees in the parking lot that provide shade for about 5 parking places.  I always, of course, head for one.  The other morning when I arrived, all 5 spaces had orange cones in front of them as a crew trimmed the trees and dropped the branches on the ground.  I was outraged!  How dare they take my place in the shade!

I drove to the other side of the lot and parked under another tree that didn’t give quite as much shade and required me to walk twice as far.  I was going to work out for heavens sake, so why was I annoyed at having to walk farther?

Having a place in the shade is obviously important in an intensely hot location such as the Valley of the Sun but I got to thinking about how it might also be important to have “a place in the shade” in everyday life.  So what do I mean by “a place in the shade”?

I mean that it is important for us all to have a place to relax, to wind down, to just be,  a place that shades us from the harshness of life.  This may be a physical place out in our backyard or on a patio.  It may be a corner of the bedroom or a room of our own.  It maybe a favorite park bench or a rock on a nature trail.  It may be the front porch or the back porch or, as was the case for my teenage stepdaughter, the roof!

These places provide us with the shade of peace, a loving shadow that falls over us when we are in them.  We feel it as if it were a soft blanket and it brings us that feeling of “ahhh” as our bodies and minds relax and become still.  These are sacred places in the middle of our busy lives and we need to treasure them and visit them often.

What happens however, if we cannot get to these favorite “places in the shade”?  What if we are stuck at our job or at a traffic light in the heat or in some other seemingly inhospitable place? 

Then comes the challenge.  How to find that relief, that peace, that feeling of comfort without being physically in the place? 

For me the answer comes by using the magical, imaginative qualities of my mind.  Our minds are wonderful things!  They enable us to be in places when we are not physically there.  They help us to experience what we would experience if we were there.  They can lead us to peace and comfort when all around us is busy or even chaotic.

So next time you are craving your “place in the shade” remember that you can go there in your mind.  Close your eyes (not if you are driving!), picture your favorite place, remember what it looks like, what it feels like.  Take a deep breath and experience that place as if you were there.  You will feel your body relax.  It is happy to go along with the fantasy!

In your mind, you don’t have to go driving around the parking lot looking for a shady place as I did.  Your “place in the shade” is as close as your next thought.

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