Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Little things, and awareness of the big things

Yesterday afternoon: beeeep! And darkness in the lab. Waiting, waiting. People started to gather in the corridor, faces lit by the glow of the emergency lights, then drifted into the main hallway. Word slowly spread (well, not too slowly, thanks to cell phones) that power was out all over campus. No more computers, no more lights. Silence inside, revelry out as students streamed free from classes and campus. Power failure holiday!

I lost a sentence or two from a paper I'd been working on, but I'm sure others were far more inconvenienced (and thus far less delighted by the occurrence). How often do we stop to "save"? More importantly, how often do we stop to think about just how much we rely on that darn electricity, no, expect, even demand it? As I was strolling home, I thought about the traffic signals, the streetlamps, the radio, the stove, the hot water heater, even the plug I need to charge the battery on my laptop. And I just take for granted that it'll be there. So many things, so many big things, are out of my hands in this specialized yet interconnected society we've created. I don't like that. But need to remember to be thankful for each and every little thing that works properly on a day-to-day basis.

Normally it takes a good thunderstorm or blizzard to knock out power to an area as large as the K-State campus, but in this case, it was a couple of squirrels. Squirrels. Thank goodness for squirrels, gathering acorns, reminding us to think ahead, be prepared for winter, or at least appreciative of autumn.

Speaking of autumn and other silly little things that encourage awareness, it's finally cold enough in the mornings that I have to wrap my scarf around my nose. This, of course, fogs up my glasses unless I adopt an inhale-through-the-nose, exhale-through-the-mouth breathing patterns. Inhale-through-the-nose, exhale-through-the-mouth, inhale-through-the-nose, exhale-through-the-mouth... Sharp sting of the fresh air through the nose, humid warmth of the stale air from the lungs, a steady rhythm that I rarely remember to observe, to delight in.
That's what yoga is for, to return to the breath, the ham sa of existence, but I forget to integrate it into daily life, into sitting in front of the computer, into walking along the sidewalk. Until "inconvenienced" by wearing a scarf.

I love my scarf -- it's a rich mustard-yellow color (the color of cottonwood leaves in autumn), extra long (so I could wrap it around my nose twice in Wyoming), and, best of all, it has pockets! Hooray for pockets! Somewhere to put my keys or stow my hat and mittens or stash Hershey bars.

Maybe I should slip some squirrels in there too, just to be sure.

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