Welcome the quiet

This morning I wiped out while taking a walk. Slid on a decline in the concrete, tore my hands open and scraped off much of the skin on my right knee. After the expletives stopped involuntarily exploding from my mouth, I laughed. It’s been at least 30 years since I last skinned my knee, I thought. Unfortunately, there was no one to see the fall, watch me laugh at my clumsiness or make the video. If they had I’d post it here. But alas, no one. Well, at least not in a living body.

I was walking quickly through a lovely cemetery at the top of Queen Anne hill and reading the names on the gravestones near the road. One right next to it popped out at me – Vane V. Vance. Really? Who was this guy? And who were his eccentric parents who thought that up? What could the middle initial possibly be? Did all of his luggage sport a triple V monogram? Maybe he designed his own logo. Maybe it looked like a mess of Vs like Volkswagen’s. As I giggled to myself and looked back to confirm I saw what I saw, a rock “popped out” from the pavement in just the right spot for me to step directly on it.

If I’d only listened more carefully. Truth is I’ve been getting messages to slow down for at least a week. My body, my mind, my energy. Even Henry has slowed his pace. Choosing to spend his time with us in the mornings and evenings, usually filled with exuberant play, instead calmly being read to or watching a few minutes of a movie. Rebelling against any activity done with any sense of urgency, especially getting ready to go somewhere by a certain time. They’re really good at that, aren’t they? Reminding us that being somewhere at a certain time only means something if we give it meaning. That time isn’t really linear. Children are really good at quantum physics.

In response to this universal and repeated appeal to slow down, I’ve gone inward. I’m working hard, but one of the benefits of being a writer and a person in need of the quiet is the solitary nature of my day. Introspection, meditation, time where it’s just me and the computer or me and the notepad or me and the pavement. There’s plenty of that. While I sometimes create activities where I must be amongst the people, I have not done so in the last week or so outside of my happy little nucleus of Henry and Larry.

I’m not the only one hearing this call…in a big way in recent days — to slow down, to look inwardly, to breathe fully, to take a break from the routine. Fellow writers are talking about it more eloquently than I, including fellow bloggers and like-minded souls. Facebook friends are posting more and more about the merits and pleasures of simply standing still and being. Folks in my life are having minor accidents, travel troubles, project delays at work, unexpected or even forced time off or time away. For the astrologers in the crowd, Mercury is in retrograde, which seems to help this kind of thing along. But I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it so consistently pronounced during such a short period of time.

As for me, I choose to heed the call. When I’m literally halted in my tracks and pushed to the ground while walking and thinking too quickly, it’s time to listen more carefully. To be more present. To be more aware. To see more clearly. To get off the treadmill. To evolve from the inside out. To be more quiet.

This excerpt from Free the Children, a wonderful fable about spiritual parenting by Bruce Scott, helped me get back there:

It is as though we all live in a giant movie theater with the same movie playing over and over again. Same dialogue. Same roles. Same actors, complaints and beliefs. And each morning we wake up, unaware that we are entering into the same theater, to once again watch and participate in the same film with the same ending. And together, six billion of us agree that this is the only film playing.

What if we suspect there is a different movie playing somewhere else…and we seek it out on our own?

Would you go to school? Would you ask your children to be compliant? To follow the rules? Get a job? Prepare for the future? Would you get up every morning to go to work? Would you have a religion?

Would you see women and men as wondrous beings without gender separation? Would you have need to marginalize people by making them wrong or right? Normal or abnormal? Crazy or sane? Hallucinating or having amazing visions?

Or might you go exploring into the wisdom of your heart and soul, and be with people from that place, living differently, quietly inside, softer with others, sweet with innocence, kind to the children, recognizing they, the little ones, will bring you home to yourself, deep inside, gently, with a giggle.

Thank goodness for the giggles, the falls and the quiet.

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Love the cracks

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.  – Anthem, Leonard Cohen

The cracks are showing a lot these days, often revealing themselves at inconvenient times. Many wise people in my life lightheartedly (but accurately) call such phases “growth periods,” so I have adopted the habit, as well. Symptoms of a significant growth period include disorientation, emotional vulnerability, sometimes unexplained frustration or impatience, fruitless grasping at control over things decidedly out of your control, loss of focus during business meetings, and bawling at the end of movies containing dogs and/or dolphins and/or kindly aliens. Luckily, they also include great clarity, love, compassion, strength and growth, even moments of extraordinary peace and knowingness – what I would call nirvana. A rollercoaster of evolution indeed.

Basically, like the entire human race, I am experiencing some growing pains. And some times more than others, my cracks show. My son is very aware of this. In fact, he is quick to point them out.

The moment my voice changes and I start to get impatient with him for not putting on his shoes on my swift timeline so we can leave and not be late darn it, he squeezes his eyes shut, shakes his head and goes limp in my arms. If I decide to use my time in the car bringing him home from school to make a phone call and finish the work I was rushing to complete before I left, he decides he needs a drink, a snack and to ask what absolutely everything out his window is during the drive. When I am frustrated with someone, that person becomes his favorite person in the world for the day. When I’m frustrated with myself, he surprises me with a simple act of kindness.

They are such effective teachers, our children. As mine, Henry could be more patient at times, a little less infuriating, but he is only three.

Exactly when I need it, Henry shoves me back into the present. He forces me to let go of control. He shows me how to allow everyone their own cracks and appreciate them all the more for them. He pushes me to look at my own and be grateful for the ability to love myself as much as he loves me, despite them…because of them.

He knows just how far to stick his little fingers in to make that crack big enough to let the light come rushing in.