well with my soul
It is breathable. Fluid. It is malleable. And it has not been mine. The slam of doors, the cough in the other room. The question on a daughter's lips. The reminder of technology. Everywhere, everywhere.
The reminders that clang around my mind. Don't forget your swimming suit. Don't forget to get an oil change. Rememberrememberremember. Don't forget to remember.
This is the season of sharing. The season of creating memories and making spirits bright--and they are. They shine so, so bright. But they are not quiet. And, silence. It has not been mine.
And we make merry and enjoy every moment, every laugh, every toast, every oh-so-single memory. I, as well as the others. It has so long been a dream of mine to be a home where people can gather. And I find at this juncture, this autumn of my life, that I have encouraged this dream into being. Not all at once, but little by little. Dinner. Christmas. New Years Eve. Just for fun.
But, silence. If I go too long without it, I wilt a little. I am essentially a solitary creature and I have learned to be solitary well. I do not crave the sound of a television, I do not often (ever, hardly) watch videos online. I don't like the sound of an iPad speaker, a tinney, irritating wasp in my ear. The echo of noise, but not sound.
And all at once I find myself with days like yesterday. Morose, sad--aggravated by my hesitation to return to work after a long break, sure--but days when I cave in to myself.
"I'm just feeling silent today," I explain, and he says, "Then be silent."
Tears come easily. I am overwhelmed. I search for the root and tear at memories and try to see what it could be. What is it that is making me so sad, so quiet, so lonely. I go on walks. Silent ones. No music. No thoughts. I find myself empty of thought as well.
Some times in our lives are busy of mind. Scanning and swirling at a dizzying speed like startled birds at the water's edge. And at other times our lives feel buffered. A loss of connection that actually soothes.
I never try to fight my way out of the buffer times, though it takes me a hot second to realize that is where I am. I think in a way those are the times we are carried.
It is so important to be present in life, yes. Present. But it is every bit as important to allow the unpresent. To drift, to unravel, to allow the Untangler of Knots to work while you rest.
A car drives past me on my walk. I barely register the cold on my cheeks. I walk. Without destination, without purpose, without intent. The brown leaves rattle, I cross an old wooden bridge. I look and the creek below my footfalls barely trudges it's bleak winter path.
I wonder what is it that has me so unsettled, so out of sync with myself. I turn around on my path. The sun sets quickly this time of year, better get home.
This part of the path is downhill, the hard incline over. I breathe and retrace my steps. Just as muddled, but prepared to accept that. Prepared to feel the muddle, to love the muddle for the gift it is. A resting place. It's okay if I don't feel perfectly successful at our reading program. It's okay if I am not sure where the next road goes. It's okay if I don't know if I am that good of a teacher. That I am not really that good a leader. Why are these things so suddenly unsettling to me. Why? Why? Why?
Suddenly I remember my old friend, David. His timeless no-nonsense advice glows out of the past like a beacon: "You don't know the answer, Mona, because you aren't asking the right question."
And it hits me--these things are all in my mind. These are anxiety, these are what I think I should be. These are the stories from the outside in. The narrative of the cheap seats. But, my mind is not all of me-just as the things that echo in it are not all the right questions. What is the story from the inside out?...Ah, now that is the right question.
My mind was clearly up in the air, but how was the rest of me? I found that even in the midst of this blue turn I had taken, my soul was quiet. At rest, willing to accept the unrest, and the soul is the much more valuable of the two.
My mind, it was tired, stressed, maxed out. Lonely in the absence of my bosom friend, Silence. My mind was in rebellion, yes, but it was well with my soul. The light that won't let me fall stayed silent, steady. Waiting for my return.
I smiled, and stepped through the door. Home.
"Well," I said at dinner, "you will be happy to know I was a passably good teacher after all today."
"I kind of thought you would be," he says. "And you know what? I bet tomorrow you'll do pretty good again."
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.