Looking Up to Real Stars

I told Maya I was looking forward to skiing so I could slow down a bit. She was understandably befuddled. It would take a few more friends— and then a rich tapestry of stars— to bring me ’round.

On hearing my desire for a little reprieve through high-speed turns down a mountain, a second friend suggested, instead, a slow hike and a soak in the local hot springs. I thought perhaps she didn’t understand how soothing it could be for me to schuss down the snow, but Laura waged a convincing argument about the body dysregulation that all my recent air travel could have caused. Laura’s perspective is rooted in Somatic Experiencing, which essentially respects our innate biological ability to self-regulate— assuming we tune into it. One cool example of SE shows this amazing ability of the body to recover (especially in children), following the ‘quake and tsunami in Japan.

Still I waffled, unsure how to approach this whole slowing-down thing. A third friend— and his seven-year-old daughter— simply showed me how it was done. It was after bedtime, but Sophie stalled her march up the stairs with a question. Instead of herding her onward to keep to the schedule, Matt sat down and engaged her curiosity for many minutes. He never checked his watch. I can only assume that Sophie went to sleep with a head full of new fodder for dreams.

It reminds me of Dr. Jane Goodall’s reflections on how her own mother encouraged a spirit of curiosity and scientific inquisition at the earliest ages:

When I was a little girl of 18 months, she [my mother] came into my room one day and found that I had taken a handful of earthworms to bed with me. She didn’t say, “ugh, throw these dirty things out!” She just said very quietly: “Jane, if you leave them here they’ll die. They need the earth.” — From a Chautauqua Lecture, August, 2000

Yesterday’s schedule got derailed a bit for me and I didn’t get back to my home in the mountains till after dark. It was far too late to ski, but there was time for an easy workout and a soak in the springs. When I finally made it home (at an hour that would have been well after Sophie’s bedtime) I lingered in the driveway long enough to be smothered by the quilt of stars overhead.

My every exhale painted the frigid air around me, but the stars blanketed the whole scene and gave me a sense of warmth. I thought of how we work so hard to stoke our fires, to create our own lights in the sky, too often forgetting the others already up there. Here’s to all the stars in our lives, those who help us slow down and take it all in: the friends, the healers, the heroes … and the kids.

Thanks for reading. Cheers,


Photo by Patrick Hoesly

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