Today has been a very noisy, hectic, non-stop action kind of day. I finally reached a point in the late afternoon where I believed that if one more person came into my office to ask me one more question, tell me one more piece of information, or hand me one more item that I had to take some action upon, I would burst into flame. Yes, spontaneous combustion right there, right then. I didn’t of course–combust I mean; and even after I hit that point someone did indeed come ask me one more question, someone different gave me one more thing, and yet another person told me one more piece of information. I couldn’t get my computer shut off fast enough and get out of the office and to my car quickly enough to suit me, but I did make it. But rather than take my 26-mile, 110 minute ride home in silence, I turned on my audiobook, half listening to it as I crept along the Beltway headed home.
Once home, I dragged myself around the yard, taking Honor on her evening trek outdoors and rudely didn’t allow her to stay outside and play ball. I didn’t have the energy to toss the ball, even though she does most of the work running to get it and bring it back. What kind of friend are you? I chided myself as I pulled her away from the ball and into the house. It registered on my already guilty conscience that I hadn’t played ball with her this morning either. I usually allow her to play at least once per day. Sigh.
I came in and prepared dinner for the two of us–kibble for her and leftovers for me–and was about to sit down and eat when the phone rang. It was my son. He had called me earlier in the day when I was in the midst of the madness at work. I’d told him I would talk to him later, after work. Now I looked down at the phone and thought to myself that the last thing I wanted to do was interact with another human being, even one as lovely as my son. And, my son being quite extraverted and loquacious, I knew it wasn’t likely to be a short conversation. It wasn’t. And while it was a good, actually quite enjoyable conversation (I picked up a little steam in the middle and managed to finish strong), it still took a little more out of me. I’d been quite surprised that I had anything left in the tank at all. We ended the conversation with him encouraging me to make some time for meditation this evening before I go to sleep. He is definitely onto something. At the end of what has felt like a very hectic day, the idea of sitting in relative silence is exceedingly appealing.
My daughter called immediately after I’d hung up with my son. I chose to answer the phone and talk with them, taking the risk of leaking out more life force, but wanting to hear from them. I believe that now I really have talked to everyone that I’m going to this evening; no one else is likely to call me. If they do, I am likely to answer, depending on who it is of course. So when I think about the relatively frazzled state in which I found myself by the end of the workday, the noise I entertained in my car ride home, and the hours I spent on the phone once I got here, I have to say that I invited most of this noise into my life today. And now, rather than enjoy the silence, I am choosing to engage with you in writing about it.
I have had moments in the last several months when my spirit has longed for quiet. Not silence, as in the absence of sound; I take great comfort from the songs of the cardinals, mourning doves, robins and other critters that grace each morning and the myriad night sounds of crickets and such that sing me to sleep in the evenings. No, my soul needs quiet. Stillness. Not the absence of movement; I truly love the voice of the wind whispering through the leaves in the trees all around me and the feel of it ruffling across my skin as I walk Honor in the evenings. The sounds of silence and the feeling of stillness is an internal state that when I have days like this I recognize are missing from my life. Wherever I left it, I need to go get it.
I’m glad for this realization; though as I look at things like my calendar, my to-do lists, and other measures of time and productivity, I am not seeing much time or space for quiet and stillness. Still, I will take my son’s encouragement to heart and meditate for a while this evening, even if just for a few moments. And when the time is right I will absent myself from the madness and seek retreat in a physical place that feeds my soul. Until then, I will make space for stillness within my own heart and spirit and let that be enough.