I was exhausted: I had spent the day–from 8am to 4pm–bringing big rocks from across the river to our community in the Ecuador Sun. I was lonely: I saw other workers joking around with their best friends, while I was stuck with five-year-old vocabulary. I was upset: I knew that this was not the day I wanted to be having everyday for six months.
I was trudging up the steep hill to get home, moving at a pace I don’t think could get any slower. My incredibly considerate 18-year-old brother, Becker, looked down at me from atop the hill and asked how I was doing. To that I simply replied with “I am tired,” not wanting to exert more effort to try to describe my real state. And then he asked, “Want to go to my dad’s work place? It’s very quiet and you can relax.” Ahhh, exactly what I need right now, I thought. He told me to bring $3, so I ran to my room, grabbed my book and music and $3, and took off to the road.
When I got to the road, I did a double-take when I saw Becker on his almost-kid-sized bike. We are going to bike there? I just want to lay down and read! He told me to hop on to the pegs in the back. After I jumped onto the pegs and held onto his shoulders, he started to pedal away just as mightily as he could. Meanwhile, negative thoughts were swimming in my head: It’s going to take us half an hour to even get there; I will be even more tired by the time we arrive; What was I thinking to agree to go? I could be in my room relaxing right now; How clueless of me to think we were actually going to drive there.
As I was fuming on the back of the bike, I suddenly realized these thoughts I was having. I wasn’t just thinking the thoughts anymore; I was noticing that I was thinking these thoughts. And with that slight shift, I looked out, and I realized that I’m in the beautiful rainforest. I can breathe in fresh smells. I can feel the cool breeze as we ride. Tranquility poured over me, and I allowed myself to take a deep breath.
I’ve been interested in mindfulness for several years. When Global Citizen Year staff sent us an article in the Financial Times about mindfulness in the workplace, I read it and found it interesting. But in my community, mindfulness has done more for me in those thirty seconds on the bike than all the conversations, readings, and even attempts at it earlier. I’m beginning to realize that mindfulness is not an interesting activity to do every once in a while: it’s a way to live each moment.