I just came inside from a few minutes on the hammock. Little Mo and I had just made our migration around the yard, and I’d hooked his leash onto the hammock chain, realizing that I’d need to buy a longer, light weight rope for this purpose. As I lay there with Mo stretched out to his full eighteen inches underneath me, with Rita curled up on her bed in the garage, with Laila out hunting, and with Louie … somewhere, I don’t know where-- I tried to empty my mind for a space of time. Like Martha I’ve been busy with many things--most of them unimportant things or else important things over which I have no control. The sunlight shone through the oak branches. The leaves turn in autumn differently here than in Minnesota. Here the heat gets them. The dryness gets them. They curl and crinkle and turn bronze. In Minnesota the chill brought color even while the leaves still lived. They not only caught the sunlight, they let it through, tinting it.
The hammock was still, and I realized: I’m thinking. I’m comparing different times of my life. Is it because this new time feels so unknown? Am I prepared for this, or am I intent upon recovering past time? I pull my attention in from the oak leaves. You are living in metaphors, I tell myself. The leaves. The dogs. Minnesota. Oregon. Can you live in your own being? Can you be still? And even that is metaphor because right away it brings Eliot’s poetry to mind -- “We must be still and still moving, into another intensity/ For a further union, a deeper communion,/ Through the cold dark and the empty desolation, ... In my end is my beginning.”
During the first six months of grieving, I moved fast. Too fast. So much to do. Plans to make. Trips to take. Visitors to enjoy. Learning to do. A lawn to mow. And now the house to prepare for winter. It doesn’t seem like much, compared to past involvements, and maybe that is what fooled me into thinking that even with things to do, I wasn’t doing enough. I wasn’t moving fast enough. The family reunion and Krista’s wedding both put me on an emotional high that fostered the illusion that I must have completed the really hard time. But the hard time is the being alone and still. Winter is coming and that feels just right.
Liz told me yesterday that her chemo-recovery therapist told her to slow down. She had no idea she was moving too fast. She wasn’t getting everything done, so how could she be moving too fast? But the feedback monitors told the tale---yes, Liz was moving too fast. Slow down. We’ll never get enough done, I guess. None of us will. That doesn’t need to be a depressing thought. It can be a freeing thought.
Both dogs sleep a lot. They become alert, though, in an instant, when the moment calls them to action. There aren’t a whole lot of things to do. There is now. THIS thing. This song to sing. This room to clean. This sentence to write.
Why be busy about many things when only one thing is necessary? This moment. This stillness. This sentence. This communion.