Take Three Minutes

October arrives in my front yard

Dear Friends,
As I write to you, I’m enamored with the Copper Beech in my front yard: an old tree that has truly embodied autumn this year. “Copper Beech” is such a beautiful name, and this month the tree has awakened to its full coppery glory. I notice it all the time: when I’m driving home and waiting at the stoplight a hundred feet my house; when I pull into the driveway and pause a moment before stepping out; when I go out to the get the paper in the cold morning air.

It’s always there, and it’s always changing. Soon it will be a cross hatch of bare branches, and I’ll forget to notice the tree. I’ll keep my head down against the dark and the cold.

Until sometime in April when, very quietly, it will nudge me out of my stupor. It will sport tiny, fuzzy, rusty buds that will keep changing and growing into the glory you see above. It does all this without a fuss. It just stands and waits and grows.

It’s easy to take notice of the the world around us when it’s beautiful. Especially in a season like fall, where the changes seem more stunning, more obvious, and we’re motivated to hang on to every moment. More challenging is the darker, slower, perhaps less noticeable season to come.

That’s why it’s so important to practice. Practice noticing. Practice gratitude. Practice acceptance. Practice taking three minutes to pause, note, bow, and continue on. Because when it’s not so obvious to us that we must take notice, our body, minds, and hearts will remember for us.

Fiona Robyns, at Writing Our Way Home, is such a great reminder of this. In her blog post today, she reminds us that we can feel better in an instant, just by taking three minutes to notice what’s right in front of us, then writing it down. After describing the busyness of her morning, she writes:

But I hadn’t looked at the browning edges of this blue-grey leaf brushing against the side of my laptop screen. I hadn’t sniffed at this cup of tea and wondered at how far the tea leaves have travelled. I hadn’t stood at our glass doors and seen the pink of a last few fallen apples, the delicate virginal flags of the cyclamen. I hadn’t let out a deep, slow breath.

I have now, and I feel better. A little more spacious. A little more grounded. A little more connected.

Three minutes. That’s all it takes.

And it’s true. That’s all it takes to connect back to the world, the season, and yourself. So try it. Practice it. Take three minutes, RIGHT NOW, and notice what’s right in front of you. Give it your full attention. Write it down. Surely you have three minutes? Tell us what you see.

Yours in the transience of autumn,
P.S.: Check out Fiona’s Mindful Writing Day, set for Nov. 1. I’ll be there, will you?


8 thoughts on “Take Three Minutes

  1. My favorite time of year. Indeed, Autumn is a fulfulling time. As a kid playing at the curb, my mother would say not to bury yourself under the leaves. Someone may park there and not see you. As the years progressed, I still enjoy picking up the maples, sigamores, oak, and try to preserve them with solutions. It’s sort of a kid kind of year. Leaves are toys. for the young and old. It will be with me allways.

  2. Three weeks ago I moved into my writing womb and sanctuary. As I sit at an antique roll top desk that I bought at a garage sale, I admire the soft wood surface as the smell of furniture polish lingers at the edges of my awareness. I look straight ahead and smile at a hand sized alabaster heart that I sculpted three months ago. A blue and silver spiral rattle that I made occupies another cubby hole of the desk. A luminous six inch crystal reminds me to savor beauty as I perch on the edge of my swivel chair. As I stretch back in the plush chair with silver wheels, my eyes drift to a colorful banner that reminds me to practice Courage, Happiness, Love, Peace, Wisdom, and Tranquility.
    I breathe in the incensed filled air, smile at the picture of my two grandchildren, and savor this sacred place that calls forth my creativity.

  3. Thanks for sharing your childhood memories of fall, Bruce. I agree: “it’s sort of a kid kind of year.” What a good reminder of my childhood in Minnesota, where my mother and I would gather maple leaves and press them between two sheets of wax paper. How did you preserve yours?

  4. This morning, I notice my messy desk: checkbook, address book, dog leash and halter, a copy of a book in which I have an essay, car keys, a crumpled receipt, a pencil, a pen, and my “OFFICIAL BALLOT-DO NOT DELAY.” Before I succumb to the urge to straighten it all up, to put things back where they belong, I take a moment to appreciate what all these things mean: money in the bank; friends to call; my lovely and silly dog waiting for her walk; my writing out in the world; a reliable car that has served me for over 12 years; the means to buy food; instruments to write and do crossword puzzles in the morning; and the fact that I live in a country where I can vote, even when the process feels frustrating. All these things point to a life that is blessed, messy as it is.

    • What a great reminder, Brenda, that our messy desktops can remind us of what matters in our lives. I’m inspired to do the same–and hope others will be, too.

  5. I see the sunlight speckle through the hanging red glass moon and the leafy fronds of the Boston fern wave through my studio window. I see the quiet bounce off the freshly painted adrondak chairs with faded botanical print cushions. A stray seed from the rich pink Morning Glory has found its way to a spot among the Lavender and spirled its way up to open and peek out. I see that I need to be out there, with those pieces of this Saturday morning.