“I wish for all of us a little silence in which to hear each other, and stillness in which to feel the millions of silenced voices clamoring to tell their stories. And I wish for all of us, the wisdom to not be so destructive, to slow down, to listen. For those struggling to trust their own voices, I wish for you to find safe places for that exploration. They do exist, but you most likely will not find them in the gathering places of the loud.”
~ Nancy Peacock, author
Palm trees in the breeze sound like a mountain brook.
In the dark when a storm’s brewing, they sound like a swiftly running creek.
Lately I’ve needed silent presence with something larger than myself. My concerns re. work have amped into fears and limiting thoughts we don’t have enough, stories I’m not enough. A month ago I moved to a bench by myself a short distance from the small group under a tree I usually stand with at sunrise. The eight blocks I walk to the bay where I hear birds, trees, other sounds, look at the sky, feel the air, let thoughts roll how they may no longer feeling enough. It’s been a good move, having nothing but sky overhead. One morning it seemed I felt a tap on the shoulder, a voice saying ‘look here.’ I twisted to see the full moon hanging in a patch of blue framed by trees. Giant, clear, luminous. Another morning I saw wide pink rays shoot off the horizon like rose quartz roads. They arched across the broad sky, landed in towering billows that flickered with lightning. Author Junot Diaz said, “The whole culture is telling you to hurry, while the art tells you to take your time. Always listen to the art.” I must look at my life as art.
My first sunrise-watch friend was Jim, a somewhat grumpy older fellow I appreciate even when we disagree and he stomps off. I’m sure we met last year because I told him the booming voice of his giant corgi was just dog talk. And he heard me wonder on mullets, saw me moon over birds, figured I loved nature like he does. We developed an acquaintance with few words. He started bringing me things. First a loan of a Florida nature book. Then gifts like a ‘duckfoot’ shell and shark’s tooth from his favorite FL key. Antique metal tokens and a glass nest egg from his collections. Copies of the NYTimes book review, a couple memoirs. Recently he brought me a bag of magnolia seeds after letting the big pink pods dry two weeks in the sun. He knew I’d love their brilliant red, and bemoaned how the color drained to that of kidney beans as he handed me the bag. Shortly after I moved to my bench, he ventured he doesn’t remember dreams but remembered me in one where I sat as I did that morning. He saw tears stream down my face. Weeping, not crying, your face pure sadness, he said. I had a quiet place in my heart at the time, and it was his dream, so I let it go. Another time he asked if I was okay. I mean spiritually, he added. So uncharacteristic. And one morning the others didn’t show up, the two of us alone, him out-of-sorts, I spontaneously swiveled back a dozen steps after waving ‘see ya.’ Said I want to give you a hug, and leaned in, put one arm around him, pressed my cheek to his face. No permissions. He put both arms around me, hugged me close for a minute. Why did you do that, he asked. Because you needed it, I said. And he laughed. Today I passed Jim heading down as I headed home, the sky still dark. He handed me a newspaper insert, said it made him cry. The insert’s theme is the power of endings. The article I read about Merl Reagle who designed brilliant word puzzles. I read Merl never asked for exactly what was on a menu (like me!). Read Meryl thrived on synchronicity and coincidence (like me!). That good things always seemed to come from these discoveries. Merl was one of my tribe I never knew. And here, the beauty of coincidence in that short piece bringing me to this story about Jim, to seeing the small ways I’m supported. I intended to talk about kindness. Then, again, perhaps I just did.
It’s been a long run of fret and made-up stories of how small I am. My comfort’s knowing life’s not about how often we fall down. It’s about how we get up. My reminder the kindnesses between people. Right now I’m moving toward the good stuff, again. Tell me, what works for you?
Jim got little Charmin’ after his big dog died. He really loves her.
I joke they look alike.
Another small journey to mindfulness. Getting to Wise.
A Writer’s Life.
A Secret: I see synchronicities and coincidence all.the.time.
A Favorite: Palm trees (a new love).