I hold on this morning to the normal places that are not disrupted.  I am writing while unsettled by events I can’t control.  My daughter’s school and most others are closed today because of a safety threat.  For my daughter the idea that kids could die at school is normal enough that she digested the news in her own way, worrying about one of her teachers who knows the reality of school shootings more intimately, rather than herself or her future.
     I realize that I too am more focused on the present than the future, the reality of living in a world where random death has become normal.  I realize too that in many communities in this country, such threats are a part of everyday life – a normal.  But the reality that the normal in her world includes random violence, mental illness and school safety drills amplifies the sadness.
     I am struggling to be with the activation in my body, and the larger context that my mind places it in.  I remember Columbine and how abnormal that felt twenty years ago, and how “normal” it has become, how little has changed.
     The words I wrote yesterday to fill this space began with “the speed of modern life is not natural”.  This morning I add “Modern life is not natural!”
     And it’s true, the speed of this modern life is not natural.  Our natural rhythms are slower, much slower in fact.  Yet we rarely get to attune to our own pace.  Our schedules are full, and our obligations are many. Some of us juggle multiple jobs, parenting and more.  When we get barely enough sleep or downtime as it is, putting our needs first can feel impossible, and the idea of self-care a fantasy.
     And it’s true, modern life is not natural.  We are removed from the natural forces that surround us and move through us. They haven’t left us, we’ve left them.  We have forgotten the depth of what we are connected to – we are often too busy to connect to ourselves.
     Part of feeling connected for me is feeling connected to my own wants and needs and choosing to act. Feeling ready to do something before we have to is an uncommon luxury these days.  In this “ready or not here we go” world, we have accepted as normal our lack of readiness and more importantly the absence of our impulse to do something before we have to do it.  This impulse is as essential a part of our nature as our heartbeat, and yet like our heartbeat, we don’t often attune to it.  This impulse arises from stillness, from the pause between actions.  When we can pause and rest and experience completing something, the impulse to do the next thing will naturally arise in its own time. But how do we carve that kind of time out for ourselves?
     Consider that every day there are pockets of time when we pause.  These moments arrive while we are waiting for a co-worker to finish their part of the task, waiting for our food to be ready, for our gas to finish pumping or for the bell to ring at our children’s school.  The list goes on.
     Or consider today when the pause comes for an abnormal reason, unexpectedly and close to home.  Today where safety was considered important, where ignoring a threat was not chosen, and where we parents all have to figure out and hopefully enjoy more unexpected time with our kids.
     With the advent of smart phones, we are more accustomed to distracting ourselves while we wait than letting ourselves inhabit the space that the waiting creates.  We don’t often consider just pausing and sensing how we feel and orienting to the physical space we are occupying.  Orienting to my body is really uncomfortable right now, but this is the work. What I can’t tolerate is the sensations that arise in me, but I can feel the chair I’m sitting in simultaneously.  One of the hardest things I’ve experienced as a parent is the reality that I can’t keep my daughter 100% safe, and days like this only bring that reality too close for comfort.
     I know that pausing and being present to our bodies and surroundings can reset our nervous system.  Even in times of angst and worse.  While today is not a welcome moment, it is an opportunity to pause, reflect and focus on what really matters.  Even in times of challenge, when we begin to settle into the moment, we get closer to our natural pace.  The pace where life keeps on going, relentlessly.  This morning, I also learned I have a new third cousin born yesterday.  Case in point.  Nothing can threaten life from her pursuit of more of herself.  Pause, be still, know what you know.  Meet what you feel, focus on the sensations, and watch them unfold and shift.  Find your pace – the pace where you can remember and listen, be and breathe and know – even for a few moments.  Let those moments bring tears, laughter, anger, truth, sanity – for yourself and for the world.