Photo: The purpose of boyhood is to make a mess. The purpose of rain slickers is to help facilitate that. The purpose of motherhood is to turn a blind eye so that the magic can happen. The purpose of clawfoot tubs is to warm little bodies and rinse off the mud. The purpose of Clorox is to help clean up the muddy footprints. The purpose of Advil is to help with the inevitable backpain that comes after all of this. The purpose of quiet moments is to smile at the joyful memory.
What a glorious Friday after the three days of clouds and rain! The colors are popping on the trees and are even more vibrant thanks to the much needed moisture. The brilliant sunlight certainly enhances their hue as well! I got to sit at my desk this morning with my feet up, the house quiet and baby free, and stare out at the barn and the maple tree that hangs over it, graciously adorning my yard with ruby red leaves.
And my Quiet Thoughts are on exactly that: Quiet Thought and how precious it is. Quiet, indeed, is a narrative theme that is emerging for me this year.
I noticed it last week when I started my morning lap swimming. My local community has a pool at the high school and they let community members sign up for lap swim at a reasonable fee. Twice a week, I get up at 5, I write for 50 minutes then I get in my car and drive over there for 40 minutes of lap swimming.
The world is perfectly still at 6 in the morning.
And so is the pool: empty locker room, empty pool but for a lifeguard and 2 others that I’ve seen.
And when I’m in the water, my brain is empty, too. No task lists, no worries, no muse whispering to me about some story… I hear water, I hear my breathing, I hear my heartbeat. That’s it.
When I first started doing this, I hadn’t noticed just how beautifully quiet my morning was until I was sitting in the empty locker room getting dressed. A voice in my head said, “sit here. Enjoy this. You’re always begging for this and here it is… so sit here a moment and enjoy it.” But I was already thinking about the things I needed to do, and I was anxious to get home so that The Husband would have plenty of wiggle room to catch his train. I dressed quickly and stepped out into the emerging morning, dashed home and had a cup of coffee. The boys were still sleeping, so I hopped into a good long shower, and stepped out feeling awesome and refreshed. When I didn’t hear anything from the nursery, I thought I was getting away with something! I’d be able to grease my scalp? Leisurely get some lotion on my skin? I practically danced into my bedroom to do these things, leaving the bathroom door open, letting out all of that steam from the shower
and setting off the hallway fire alarm
and all of the fire alarms in the house, because they are all hardwired.
Screaming boys. Ringing ears. No escape in any corner of the house. No husband to come help. Had to be a self-saving princess.
40 minutes later, I’m sitting with ringing ears and two unhappy children (but silent alarms, thank God) and that voice came back to me: “I told you so.”
There have been multiple moments since then when I’ve had opportunity to stop and think, or stop and listen, or to simply notice the peace and quiet. I’ve been sure to take them… including giving myself an extra five minutes in that locker room after each session to close my eyes and hear nothing before stepping back out into the world. Lately, during non-school days, I find myself looking up and realizing that the boys are playing happily without making a peep, or that nothing needs to be done and I can sit for a moment. I find myself stopping and staring at a remarkable view or enjoying the call of the migrating geese overhead. Though I thought I’d done that before, I feel more conscious about it now. It’s an interesting new narrative theme: to stop, to enjoy, to relish the moment.
It is hard to focus when it feels like all tasks and requests have the same level of priority. There are times when I feel like I’m going from crisis to crisis without a lot of room to rest in between. Or worse, I’ve got an ongoing task, something that requires a bit of focus and skill, and then everything else invades my mental space. After sustaining that for a while, the mind gets scattered: It’s hard to prioritize which thoughts/ideas/tasks are important and what can wait. To have these mornings of nothingness has brought back something I’d lost along the way. Allowing the body to work while the brain lies fallow has given me back a clarity and focus that I haven’t had for a long time.
I know that I wrote about “bringing the noise” last week in my last panic of 20hood, but I meant that in a different kind of way: To relish in the quiet is to bring relief to an overworked mind, to bring the noise to my tasks is to keep up the momentum. Finishing this book has been harder than I thought it would be. I’m pushing, but the progress is slow (I’m calling it a case of “the middles”). I am slowly getting out of the slog, and recommitting myself over and over to finishing this thing. I’ve been bringing the noise every morning: up at 5 and writing. Every morning. No excuses. I’m averaging only 600 words a day right now… but that’s 600 closer to The End. If I can continue to combine the necessity and relief of the quiet and use that to energize the moments of loud creativity, I’ll meet my goal. Maybe even exceed it. Here’s hoping.
To wake up on this beautiful Friday and observe, quietly and thoughtfully, its beauty brings me warmth and wishes. It makes me wish for apple dumplings, warm with a bit of whipped cream on top and presented to you by someone who loves you with an eager smile. I wish you a sip of good tea with a few drops of honey in it, enjoyed in the light of the morning with a view of the changing landscape. I wish you the sight of rustic things: scarecrows and hay bales, decorative pumpkins and corn stalks, the things that take your mind to childhood field-trips to the farm. I wish you a dry pile of leaves and the playful spirit to jump into it. I wish you your first bowl of soup, preferably tomato with just a touch of cream and basil and maybe a bit of salty cheese. Bonus points if it is served with bread, and extra bonus points if that bread is baked by hands that you know and love. I wish you a whisper in your ear; something sweet and surprising that will stick with you for days and make you smile in the quiet moments of your day. I wish you two quiet moments: one in the morning for contemplation or reflection and another in the evening for dreaming and staring at the beautiful moon. I wish you the warmth of a blanket, a good book, and sweet slumber. And I wish you the joy of knowing that you are known and loved. You deserve it.
Until Monday, take care.