I pry my eyes wide open. For safety’s sake I’m sleeping in my glasses. I always sleep in my glasses. I need to see. I desperately need to see. But it’s so dark I might as well have kept my eyes closed.
It’s so dark! It’s so, so dark!
I catch my breath. Then the little thoughts begin to pelter me like hailstones, icy little balls rat-a-tatting at me.
I should have called him.
I started to read but I stopped.
Why didn’t I do the dishes last night?
That picture has been crooked on the wall for a week.
The crags of unfolded laundry are piled higher and higher. Unputaway
The cobwebs reach delicately, achingly from corner to lamp and then arch back again.
“I want this! I need this! You’re late!!”
I’m already afraid for the mistakes of the day I’m yet to make.
I struggle from the swirled tidepool of my bedsheets.
Down the stairs, into my coat, out the door, onto the porch. Once there I stop. For a moment or two I can’t even breathe. But I can hear it.
It’s so long since I’ve really heard silence.
The air is moist, comfortingly heavy and sweetly enveloping. Each breath feels as if I’m swallowing rich mouthfuls of a malted. I breathe slowly — not to be too greedy.
I know this place so well. The ragged hedge, the tufted and tousled grass, the barebranched trees jubilantly stretching their limbs, grateful to at last shaken free the leaves that form a crunchy carpet below.
It’s all solid, all respectful, all tolerant. How can a place feel patient?
But here for a few moments, nothing is asked of me. I am not judged. I am quietly welcome.
That’s all there is. But then, that’s all I wanted.
In December of 1831 Charles Darwin boarded The Beagle to begin a five year voyage of discovery that would take him from the Canary Islands to the Galapagos to New Zealand. Was he equal parts exhilarated and exhausted, roiled by the ocean, burned by the equatorial sun, embraced by the arms of the sky? The only naturalist on board FitzRoy’s vessel, he was separate from the seamen, always alone, straining to hear the sounds of quiet. Away from the onslaught of the world, through jungles and trauma and terrors, he still possessed one of the greatest luxuries: he had time to think.
After returning home in 1836 Darwin spent rest of his life was spent sorting his thoughts. His period of separateness and quiet was the seedbed of his greatness, of all that came afterwards.
I have not traversed oceans, nor clambered up mountains, nor soared through the skies. So many times , like today, I cannot make myself step further than my front porch. But for me, at least this time, it’s far enough.
A few moments of quiet and my mind leaps forward too!