Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Experiment - Wrap Up

Yesterday was the final day of The Experiment where my 10-year-old daughter assigns me tasks I must complete.

First off, here's how yesterday's tasks went:

Meditation went fine. It's been awhile, so my "monkey mind" was chattering quite a bit, as expected. It felt great to sit with the rain and wind swirling around the house. The period at the beginning of yoga class was another opportunity to focus on my breath, so I took advantage of that, too. I marvel at how I can tune out the high-rise construction noise across the street from the yoga studio - and do so for fairly long stretches. And when I do hear the workers, I simply pretend they are elves pounding chocolate chips into giant cookies.

I had at least 5 conversations without talking about myself. I had a few at yoga class, then a few more at our polling place. (I was disgusted to learn there was only a 10% voter turnout yesterday, but that's another can of worms.) I made sure that when Rebecca returned home from school, my first conversation with her was all about her day. I am committed to continuing this practice: listen more, prattle less.

And yes, I walked the full neighborhood loop. Our polling place is on the loop, so we walked in the rain to go cast our vote, and then completed the loop afterwards. The air was wet and fairly warm, and it rained lightly during the entire walk. The part I liked was coming back home after a wet walk - that  stretch of time when you warm up and dry off, and the house feels cozier than usual.

That wraps up the last day of The Experiment. So now what?

Even though I don't have one of Rebecca's task sheets with her amazing illustrations to follow today, I still feel like I have a duty to carry on in the spirit of The Experiment. And I think I'm off to a good start:

After dropping Rebecca off at school, I decided to take a short stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway back home, since there is already some Fall color on what is called "the commuter stretch" of the Parkway. The road changed moods at every twist as it road snaked in and out of the fog. The first rays of sun pushed through the mist, making for some amazing light. I kept planning to turn around, but the drive kept getting better.

I regretted not having my camera, but I told myself that this was a morning I needed to drink everything in with my senses, and not let a mechanical apparatus interfere with that process. (The photos below are not from today's excursion.)

By the time I got to Bent Creek, I knew I was headed all the way to Mount Pisgah. Soon, I was driving through fog-shrouded trees enveloped by rays of sunlight. Before long, I climbed above the clouds left by the clearing storm and into a clear, royal blue sky. The ridge lines were illuminated by the low sun, making the mountains look like a giant, bunched-up polarfleece blanket. When I arrived at Mt. Pisgah, I took the path I recently discovered that leads to the top of the Buck Springs tunnel.

At the top of the tunnel, I felt an inner quiet fill me. I realized that for long stretches, I could not hear a single motor - no cars, no airplanes, just water dripping off the granite escarpment, a light breeze rustling through the trees, and a few bold bird calls. I felt myself slow down internally as I took in all the sights and sounds. After about 30 minutes, I headed back on the trail, walking at a snail's pace and savoring every footstep, pausing occasionally to look at the smear of cirrus clouds in the sky overhead (another sun dog sighting!) and gazed down as the low-angled sunlight illuminated every vein on the leaves at my feet.

A few thoughts from my inner gremlin popped up, like "you should be at work", but I made deep exhalations to push them out of me. I instead told myself that this was exactly where I should be, and exactly what I should be doing in that moment: slowing down and savoring a quiet morning surrounded by nature. I don't know what, if anything, experiencing moments like this one will inspire in me later on, but I trust that this is the path I must take to rediscover inspiration. I need to remember to carve out many more such moments in my life that allow me to shed negative thoughts and immerse myself in the magic this planet has to offer.


In recent posts, I've posed the question of whether or not I can detect a shift in myself as a result of The Experiment. One friend suggested that maybe the shift will come in my relationship with Rebecca - and I think he's right in that The Experiment has brought us closer together.

I asked Rebecca what she thinks should come next now that The Experiment has concluded. She mentioned that she was planning to observe me for the next five days and if she notices me slipping back into old habits, or getting grumpy and stressed out, that she may assign more tasks.

However, at Beth's suggestion, Rebecca is planning to assemble a set of tasks in the form of a deck of cards, so that I can shuffle and pick one when needed. I think this is a great idea! Perhaps a set of cards with a companion book is in order, so that other people can use this technique? Who knows?

The one thing I do know is: this doesn't feel like an ending. It feels more like a beginning.

Thanks to everyone who has been reading the blog, offering words of encouragement. Rebecca and I were both touched to learn that a few of you actually followed along working on the tasks, so we send our special thanks to you!


  1. You know Hep Kat that kind of question is ridiculous. It is amazing how quick people are to judge other's. If you read and stay open-minded, the clarity will truly enlighten you. Many times life gets in the way of the most precious things. As adults, sometimes we are so wrapped within ourselves and responsibilities, you do not realize the effects it has on others. However, if one just steps back and listens to the wisdom of innocence, you will finds centuries of peace and understanding. The reality is, Sometimes you have to stop and listen to the Rebecca's of life!! Think I will do that now. Good Day! Rich, Beth and Rebecca! Thank you for bringing the realities of life into the foreground. May you be blessed and happy! You have brought understanding to a tear stained face. Please do make your cards and book.

  2. OHK, The sad thing about those who judge others is that they save the harshest judgements for themselves.

    I think a little role reversal is both healthy and refreshing in this case. After 53 years on this planet, I've lost a good deal of that wide-eyed wonder and carefree sensibility. I feel so fortunate that Rebecca was willing to share some of herself with me so I could recapture a glimmer of what it is like to be young and so full of spark and hope.

    Thanks for your supporting words, HR!


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