Paying Attention to the Body

It wasn’t a hard day in class, but it felt long. On the second day of one course I teach, there is a certain push to keep on schedule. One eye on the clock, the other on the activities and questions, and the afternoon gets squeezed for all the teaching moments.

Lighting and a saguaro from

When I got home I was tired. Tired enough to fall asleep in the chair looking at the mail. After supper, the rain started. When you live in the desert, it’s not a sound you hear often, but the sound of rain drumming on the skylights and splashing in the pool is an instant sleep inducer for me.

I jerked awake at 10:30, horrified that I had slept away the evening. I had work to do! And while my body sat up, my mind wanted to rollover and go back to sleep.

Guilty, I hurried to check emails and catch up on an evening of work. And then I stopped. It’s really good to listen to your body when it asks for something. Whether it’s sleep or creative play, the body hardly ever asks for what it doesn’t need. (Well, mine asks for chocolate a bit too often. But otherwise. . .)

The ocotillo was all bare stems. One good rain and it leafs out in about 10 hours. The leaves stay on as long as it rains, then in another 12 hours, they are gone again.

Martha Beck says, “Having fun if not a diversion from a successful life; it is the pathway to it.” Listening to your body is an act of wisdom. Too often, I push ahead, ignore the need for sleep, or play, or just being aware.

So my plans tonight drained away with the rain. No one will do the work for me, it will be here tomorrow. We get eight inches of rain a year. Spending an evening listening to it fall and letting it drum me to sleep seems a deeply restorative choice. Like the ocotillo that sets leaves when it rains (seriously, in 10 hours it goes from a bunch of sticks, to covered in leaves) and drops them when the rain is done, it’s good to pay attention to what you need.

Today is 9/11. Patti Digh has written a heart-opening article on this memorial day. It’s worth reading and spending some time with.

Quinn McDonald loves Monsoon Season in Arizona.