I was already in my head when I woke up this morning. I woke up sick. I had planned to go to the Gordon Gym, thanks to the generous gift from a stranger. But I was up too early – way before the gym opened. I had nothing to drink in my hotel room. And I needed tea. That’s how I knew I was sick.
When I saw that it wasn’t raining, as had been predicted, the wavering started.
I’m going to drink some tea and then go to the gym.
But it’s not raining. Maybe I should exercise outside.
How can I exercise outside when the stranger gifted me with a pass to the gym?
I continued to debate the issue in my head even after my tea. By then the gym was open and I wanted to get moving on my day. As I went back and forth in my head, I tried to pack my suitcases so I would be ready to check out of the hotel later.
Tug of War
It would have been so simple to stop and ask myself, “what do you want to do?”
Simple, but not helpful.
I wasn’t struggling with clarity of intention. This battle was about conflicting expectations: the tension between what I wanted to do and what I thought I should do. The two sides of me pulled in different directions.
At last, I thought I resolved the issue. I left my hotel room with a plan to exercise outside. Then, waiting for the elevator, I changed my mind.
I went back into the room to get my gym bag. This time, I made it outside and across the street, into Independence Park. I looked around. The weather was too nice. I had to be outside.
As I berated myself for indecisiveness and wasting the morning, I turned around and headed back to the hotel.
Oh, yes… I did.
I went back up to my room to leave my gym bag. Then I headed back outside. For real this time.
The sky above me is clear blue. There are a few dark clouds over the ocean, but they are in the distance.
I start to prepare for my walk, pulling out my MapMyFitness app to track my miles and time. The familiar lecture starts playing in my head:
Look how late it is. How off schedule I got this morning. I fell off of “fitness first” by going for tea first. I wasted time. This is what happens when I try to do something else before fitness. Why do I always do this?
And then the push back.
I woke up sick. I needed tea. I need to pack.
Self-compassion and self-loathing all rolled up into one. My specialty.
I’m here now. Let’s get started.
I couldn’t believe the blue sky. They said it was going to rain.
My anger at myself wants an external outlet, and the weather forecasters are easy targets. They’re wrong again. They can’t get it right. It’s their fault that I was flip-flopping this morning. Had they predicted accurately, I would have stuck with my plan.
I need to take a photo of this to remind myself how the weather forecasters are so often wrong.
I look up to take a picture of the sky, and that’s when I see it:
Seriously. A freakin rainbow.
It’s faint, buried in the clouds that hang in the distance, but it’s there. I don’t know when I last saw a rainbow in person. Have I ever?
The tears start.
If ever there was a sign that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, this is it. This is a sign that I am meant to be here right now.
In my heart, I can feel the vibration of a more divine voice that drowns out my inner critic and my inner defender.
It’s ok to ease up. You don’t need to push so hard every day. I’m taking care of you.
Simply reflecting in gratitude didn’t feel like enough. I recall that there is a specific blessing to say upon seeing a rainbow. Twelve years of Jewish Day School education were not for nothing. I felt a need to know what it is, and to say those words.
(As I pull out my phone to summon Google, the irony isn’t lost on me that this act is in violation of the laws forbidding work on the Sabbath. My rationalization side leaps to my defense: You’re looking up a blessing! Can’t argue there.)
Google seemed to know what I needed before I finished typing my request, and it delivers:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֶלוֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם זוֹכֵר הַבְּרִית וְנֶאֱמָן בִּבְרִיתוֹ וְקַיָם בְּמַאֲמָרוֹ
Blessed are You, Lord our G‑d, King of the universe, who remembers the covenant, and is faithful to His covenant, and keeps His word.
I have no words. Once again, I’m left speechless by a miracle, here on the beach in Tel Aviv.
This is a sign. Another message from the Divine. God is watching out for me.
How many more miracles and signs do I need to see before I believe? A rainbow is the ultimate sign of God’s commitment to us. A reminder that He keeps his promises.
Imagine if I had felt better this morning. If I hadn’t gotten distracted with packing. If I had stuck to the plan to go to the indoor gym. If… a million things.
I would not have seen it.
How much time and energy did I spend berating myself over “wasting time”?
“You’re Exactly Where You’re Supposed to Be”
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard someone say to me “relax, you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be right now.”
I nodded. I pretended I understood what that meant. And then I would turn away and roll my eyes.
What does that even mean, anyway?
Now I understand. There’s a bigger force at play here. I’m not in control. It’s not up to me to say what time is wasted. I can’t see the whole picture. God creates the plan.
This is a reminder to TRUST.
Trust in my intuition. In my decisions. In the process that I need to take. In God’s intention and willingness to watch over me. If I trust, it will work out.
I realized that I almost missed this because I was trying to record the time and start the MapMyFitness App. I was so buried in recording every moment of what I do with my time that I almost didn’t see the rainbow that was right in front of me.
This is a reminder to bring PRESENCE to everything I do.
A reminder not to get so caught up in tracking my life at the expense of living my life.
I can’t recall a time when I had the level of intention when reciting a blessing as I had just now. I felt immense gratitude. For the miracles of this week. For the shift in perspective.
Suddenly it was gone. Faded from the sky. I continue walking down the boardwalk along the beach. Marveling at this day.
It is warmer than it has been the past few days. I am peeling off layers as the sun gains strength. My phone crashed from the MapMyFitness app. As it reboots, I consider that perhaps this is a sign that today is not about measuring or tracking. Today is about learning — again — the value of being present. I can honor my body and practice fitness without monitoring every minute and every step. I tuck my phone away as I continue to walk along the beach.
Suddenly it occurs to me, that, just maybe, life isn’t about finding the path, but about enjoying the detour.
What if that were true?
Perhaps sometimes we must abandon the plan. Change the routine. Shake up the ritual. Be present to the moment and the opportunities presented there. Go with our gut. Ease up rather than push harder.
There are some dark clouds to the north and west over the ocean. The sky to the east is clear blue. The stores are closed for Shabbat and people are out on the beach: exercising, eating breakfast, laying in the sun. Relaxing. Resting. Taking time off from their routines of the week.
I don’t know from which way the weather is coming. It may still rain yet today. But clearly the weather forecast was wrong. Because it is 10:24 and it is not raining now.
Right. 10:24 am. I was berating myself for wasting the day. The DAY!! It’s not even 10:30.
I can’t even …
I am standing on the beach — in Israel!— on vacation!! — under a clear blue sky. The weather is perfect for an outdoor workout. And so I will be here, right now. I will give my body some movement. I will allow it to soak up the sun for as long as I can.
I will be present to this time and to this experience.