I was walking my dog recently on one of those scorching summer days that turns the pavement into a frying pan. She was panting along, racing as fast as her heat-sensitive paws would carry her. Then we reached a shady splotch. Within a second, she went from overheated, get-me-outta-here struggling to full-fledged savoring. A smile stretched across her bulldog face and added glints to her eyes. She looked up at me as if to say, “Oh yeah… Now we’re talking! Isn’t this the BEST?” Out went my concerns over rushing back home and to work and the heat effects on both of us. Here in the middle of heat incarceration, Zoe was taking a beloved vacation.
I decided to join her. Plunking down on the grassy patch, I inhaled the sweet fragrance of the magenta flowers I hadn’t noticed in my umpteen-thousand walks by. I admired a swirling design on the side of the tree, watched a butterfly flit past, swallowed a gulp of fresh air and felt myself calming and cooling down with my shade-loving pal. It struck me then that without the heat, we never would’ve had that experience. If it takes rain (tough times), to get rainbows (colorful rewards), perhaps it takes heat to observe and appreciate what we already have.
No matter how sweltering life gets, we can seek shade—those bits of respite that cool things down, if even for a few minutes. If we choose not to pause and savor it, we could rob ourselves of valuable lessons, new experiences and gratitude.
3 Ways to Seek and Savor the Shade
- When finances are tight: Rather than go to a restaurant, take a picnic to a park. Instead of the theater or book store, hit your local library. Volunteer to help others.
- When creative juice seem slight: Take a break. Go for a walk or hike, take a bubble bath, see a movie, connect with like-minded friends. Go somewhere peaceful. Meditate.
- When you feel overwhelmed, torn or stifled: Make like H.G. Wells, who said, “Sometimes, you have to step outside of the person you’ve been and remember the person you were meant to be. The person you want to be. The person you are.” Stop doing whatever it is you’re doing and hating. Ask yourself if that job or activity supports who you are and wish to be. “Hot” feelings can guide us to cooler places, if we let them.
When life or the weather swelters, do you focus on the heat or the shade? What “shade” have you savored during a challenging time? What did it teach you? And seriously, how wise is my bulldog?