Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Let it Go

I had an aggravating customer service experience this morning. I left the place feeling really angry. Over and over I imagined all the smart, self righteous things I would have said in my fantasy re-do of the encounter. I got more and more worked up, ready to write letters and get people fired. I was really irritated. Luckily, since it was on my way home, I decided to stop at NATL to take photos of butterflies. This turned out to be the perfect medicine. As soon as I neared the entryway, I heard red shouldered hawks calling to each other from opposite ends of the fields and the cicadas buzzing loudly. I stepped inside the fence and was swept away into a whole new world, far away from irritating clerks. It was overcast, but it was sunny enough that the insects were very active. The paths are lined with Spanish Needles plants (Bidens alba). Besides being quite pretty, Spanish Needles are very attractive to insects (more on that another time!) and these flowers were bustling. I could feel my blood pressure lowering. My muscles relaxed and my mind had a new focus.  My irritation melted away as I was drawn into the brilliant colors and movement.
Green Fly on Bidens

Painted Lady Butterfly on Bidens

Buckeye Butterfly on Bidens
There was a tractor tilling a field near me and the air smelled like cut grass and warm soil. I breathed in that sweet smell and felt content. I continued taking pictures for about an hour. Every so often I'd recall the bad start of my morning and would start to relive the encounter. I could feel myself getting worked up. Then I would breathe in the sweet air and remind myself that I was surrounded by calm and beauty. The birds sang, the dragonflies darted, and the flowers danced in the wind. It was beautiful.

Bees and Bidens

I am slowly realizing that it is up to me whether or not I dwell on the things that bother me--on the unkind words, the hurt, the injustice, the misunderstandings. If I want to, I can think about them so much that they begin to consume me. Or I can let them go. If I choose to dwell on the past, it's so easy to find myself sucked into a vortex of hurt feelings, resentment and anger. I can pick at those wounds and let them bleed any time I choose. It can be hard to break out of the grips of a good sulk. The funny thing about this morning is that it really wasn't a big deal. "In the Big Sea of Life," as my friend Robin used to say, it didn't really matter. But caught up in my feelings, I lost perspective. When I decide not to indulge my negative feelings,  I turn to nature for an attitude readjustment. It's really hard to stay focused on yourself when you are outside, smelling, hearing, feeling and seeing. The feel of the sun or the wind on your skin is like a gentle nudge. Psst. Hey. Wake up. Look around. Come out. The nice thing about being outside when your irritated is that there are too many distractions to stay focused and nurse that anger. I am thankful for all the distractions out there. And I feel a whole lot better.

Viceroy Butterfly

Clematis reticulata Seed Head
Lady Bird Beetle on Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata)

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