Last night, Ryan and I went camping with friends on Lake Travis, near Austin. It was Ryan’s birthday and we planned on celebrating with swimming, beer, and grilled food. I was looking forward to getting out of the city, but found once I got there that it was hard to relax, especially around a group of people. It took several hours, and a few beers, before my mind-frame began to shift and I settled into my surroundings and our activities. I felt restless, like I wanted to be by myself and reconnect somehow; press my "restart button", so to speak. But this trip was something we had all been planning and I knew these opportunities didn’t come along too often, so I wanted to make sure to enjoy my time with friends, and be present and enthusiastic about celebrating my husband’s birthday.
I tend to be a fairly out-going and friendly person, so when I am in a quiet, pensive mood, people notice and often ask if I am OK. This question can often make me feel defensive, as if I need to explain why I am in an “alternative” mood from the norm. It takes a lot of inner patience in these situations not to draw even more attention to my mood and answer, “Yes, I’m fine, OK?!?!” This response isn’t going to make me feel better (or the person who asked the question), so I find it more worthwhile to focus on my breath and ease through these inquiries with a smile. I know I’ll get out of my funk sooner or later and finding ways to make a smooth transition out of a bad mood can often prevent regret for my snappy comments or reactions later. I fared pretty well yesterday, and eventually was greatly enjoying being away from the city and with friends by the lake (see photo below).
This morning, when I awoke from my hazy sleeping bag fluff, I felt even more present as we spent the morning drinking coffee and chatting peacefully. I greatly enjoy mornings in general, but at this point, after a full day of camping, I felt that my restart button had been sufficiently pressed. I think of my days as a middle-schooler, playing Nintendo and enjoying the satisfaction of pressing the restart button and watching a fudged-up game disappear and a new chance presented as the game begins again. I find many simple ways each day to press my own restart button, but sometimes an overnight trip to the woods is a reminder of how long it can take to feel “restarted”. It can take several weeks of vacation in many cases to feel sufficiently refreshed. But no matter how long it takes, it is important to pay attention to the various moods we go through during these periods of rejuvenation, good or bad. Not every moment of a vacation or playtime is going to be perfect. The bad moods or moments are just as important as the good and can make the experience even more real and special once you resurface into a good-feeling phase. The goal is to be patient with oneself through the good and the bad, for this is the balance of life (the yin and yang). In what ways do you press your restart button?
The birthday boy gets ready for some fun (and beer) in the sun
You can probably tell that my mood had lifted by this point!