I reclined on the lounge chair and let out a breathy sigh of relief. The warm sun felt good as it brushed against my face and skin. Although I truly enjoy being around people, I was by myself for a few minutes and selfishly soaked it all up.
I certainly know I need to pause and be quiet sometimes to recharge, but taking the time to do it is often a challenge. There is no question its good for the body, mind and spirit. When I slow down long enough to be still and absorb the beauty of nature, something magical happens. I begin to feel alive again.
I felt comforted by the humongous oak trees surrounding me as they offered up their strong branches reaching high above me. Time and the elements had twisted them, causing them be intertwined against the vivid blue sky. They definitely caught my attention. I gazed up and slowly studied every detail. We get so used to seeing things that are constantly around us in our day-to-day activities that we sometimes forget to look above.
Dripping from each limb were pieces of gray Spanish moss like tinsel on a Christmas tree. So delicate and unassuming, the moss felt completely at home sharing the sky with the trees. A group of ferns decided to piggyback on the tree limbs, adding a beautiful green texture to the umber colored bark.
A gentle breeze caused the tree branches to sway ever so slightly against the sky. Sunlight danced on their surface forming glints of yellow as if they had been dusted with pure gold. Birds frolicked among them darting from branch to branch. The sky was alive with beauty and I was blessed to be in its presence.
I couldnt take my eyes off of it. I was almost transfixed. Lying there, I thought to myself how much Id been missing by not taking time to pause. Beauty is there for the taking. It doesnt cost a dime. We just have to invest a little time. And when we do, our lives become richer.
The entire week I was away on vacation, I made it my goal to pause and soak up beauty. One day when I was walking on the beach, I stopped to stare at that incredible spot where the ocean meets the sky. It is a place so pure it almost takes your breath.
I always feel so small standing on a beach. It helps me keep the petty and trivial things in life in perspective. It helps me to remember whats really important.
As I continued to walk, a friendly group of sea gulls came to visit. I stopped to enjoy them for a while. Gracefully, they flew high into the sky only to glide back down to land on the sand. I felt like they knew I was watching them and were trying to impress me -- and they did.
As I walked away, I marveled at how they flew without a single worry or fear. Theres something to be learned from birds. They have a beauty all their own.
Late one afternoon, I was blessed to be at the right place at the right time to witness a gorgeous sunset. Sunsets are always glorious but never more so than when their brilliant colors actually touch the ocean. As I stood there watching the sun slowly disappear, it was as if the ocean had swallowed it up until the last glimmer of gold finally vanished. Who cant be grateful when blessed to bear witness to a magnificent sunset?
My week was filled with a plethora of wonder and amazement. I left rejuvenated and refreshed. By just taking a few moments to pause and absorb all the beauty surrounding me, I was reminded of Gods wonderful creations. I was dazzled and delighted and definitely in a better frame of mind. I was ready to tackle the world.
On the trip back home, I began to think of all I had to do. I turned on the radio and quickly remembered all the bitterness and strife that is engulfing our world. I knew I had to get back into the day-to-day activities that sometimes blur the beauty surrounding me.
I didnt want to get caught up in the negativity. I wanted to hold on to the lessons I had learned during my week away.
Then out of the blue, I opened an e-mail and read a quote by Anne Frank that spoke volumes to me. It was only a few words but its message was powerful: Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy. So, thats what I intend to do.
More with Mark
Just a few spots remain for Mark and Debra Ballards annual New York City holiday trip Dec. 5-9. Join the Ballards in the Big Apple at the most amazing time of year for Broadway shows, tours, shopping and more. For details, go to www.markballard.com or call 478-757-6877 and leave your mailing address to receive the information by postal service.
Check out Marks website, www.markballard.com, for current projects, recipes, Marks T-shirts, prints, cards and his collectible porcelain plates.
Mark is on www.macon.com 24 hours a day. Videos, columns and articles are featured.
Mark Ballards column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions or comments to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208; call 478-757-6877; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or become a subscriber to Marks Facebook page.