FEATURES Finding Your Inner Zest BY TERESA JOHNSTON In my garden, daffodils are popping up through semi-frozen, clay soil. Deep in the heart of winter, these green, spear-like leaves’ appearance heralds the promise of spring’s return. Coupled with a much-needed day of beautiful, clear blue skies and golden sunshine, I am keen to get back outdoors. My mind begins its inevitable series of springtime questions: which veggies and flowers shall I plant this year? How soon before I can go for a long hike without being severely battered by wind? As a child, born in the heart and heat of summer, I am keen to shake off the heavy coat of hibernation and get back out into fresh air. But before I run too far ahead of myself, I stop. Taking a look around, I see that this is just one day. Winter has not yet departed and were I to eagerly plant up seed trays, once sprouted, it would be far too cold to plant them out. Sure, I can attempt a good, long hillwalk. But, after an hour and half’s drive to my preferred Munro, I am bound to encounter uncomfortable, icy temperatures and bitter, gusty winds. Life is about balance. In college biology, we were taught all about homeostasis. How we humans have bodies that consistently aim to maintain an internal environment that favours the ideal temperature, pH, or any other desired properties. When we stop to look inside - to explore and discover who we are - we begin to establish our personal, emotional, and spiritual homeostatic boundaries. We are able to firmly declare what works and what doesn’t work for us. By defining what causes us to flourish and realizing that which causes us to diminish, we establish a centre line on the scales of life. Knowing who you are allows one to pursue, encourage and expect the fulfilment of desires. To walk toward those things fill out the phrase joie de vivre and leaves you happily humming ‘Singin’ in the Rain’. Equally important, these values allow you to veer away from situations or personalities that leave you feeling depleted.
The scales in action Recently, I ran into an acquaintance whilst on a walk. We stopped and had what felt like a lengthy conversation on the highs and lows of the housing market. For twenty long minutes, I smiled, nodded and at tried desperately to keep from longingly gazing at the green pathway, beckoning my feet. Finally, past being overly polite and realizing my complete lack of interest in the subject, I excused myself, wished the person a good day and proceeded on to do what I was there to do... go for a long, solitary, peaceful walk! I know me and I know that although perhaps theoretically I should, I don’t actually give a hoot about the housing market. I do give a hoot about my peace of mind and given the option to have those twenty minutes back, I would gratefully spend them doing something far more enjoyable. (Perhaps, for instance, cleaning the grout in the shower with an old toothbrush.) Just as you don’t find many amoebas swimming about petri dishes thinking, “You know, I wish really wish there were some acid in here so I could swim toward it”, avoiding that which harms or depletes us is not only ideal but also affirms your personal commitment to honouring yourself.
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