The Art of Sitting in the Shade

Yesterday I sat outside for a long time. Summers here are hot and dry, with temperatures lingering in the mid nineties and the humidity struggling to rise from single digits. Mountains and hillsides that were lush in May, lie cloaked in the olive and brown that in my mind, define the West. The dark green needles of the Ponderosa Pines and the smoky blue-green of the high desert sage are the only colors of note. The air crackles with heat, fire danger is high. I didn’t read. I didn’t listen to an audio book or music through ear buds.  I didn’t close my eyes or meditate. I didn’t nap. I sat. There was a light wind and I watched it move through the leaves on the cottonwood trees in my front yard.  I observed some small green, nearly transparent insects as they walked on the arms of my chair and eventually onto my own arms, where I gave them the boot and brushed them carefully away. I listened to birds. I heard traffic out on the highway. I could vaguely smell smoke but it was a long way off. I became nothing more than an observer yet oddly enough, I felt like a participant. Colors were softer and at the same time, more intense. The air felt fresher and after a while I felt lighter. At first, it seemed decadent. Really decadent. “I should be doing something,” I said to myself.  “What a waste of time.”  After a while, it felt not only okay — but exactly like the right thing to be doing, this business of doing nothing.  There’s a book called “The Art of Running in the Rain.”  I’d like to propose a sequel, “The Art of Sitting in the Shade.” I plan on getting better at that.



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