I don’t know if you have ever noticed, dear reader, but I have a difficult time cultivating peace. I am pretty much constantly stressed all the time and live most of my days in a state of (generally controlled) anxiety that keeps me on my grind and goal-oriented. Rare are the times when I can actually relax or unwind. Usually all I can manage is an adjustment of the tension that’s on me, not a decrease. There are a lot of reasons this is the case, many of which have to do with the difficulty of my life in general and the last three years especially, but I’ve also never really been good at it. I have a few things I can turn to for relaxation, depending on the scenario and how I’m feeling (puzzles, video games, and music), but they all typically wear out their welcome eventually.Continue reading
Here sit I, wrapped and stoic
In somber silence insoluble,
Painting prosaic pictures
On a dirty page so voluble
That it has become volatile.
My keyboard cries “calamity!”
Rocketing its reedy racket
Through thin and thankless seconds
Captured in a minute packet
And covered in an hour jacket.
Such soothing salacious sounds
Bring back bitter unbegotten barbs
That jibber, jabber, and jibe
uselessly against my wards
and all my other mental guards.
Plentiful and powerful peace
Is found and ferociously fenced
In the nearest nebulous neighborhood
To be kept as protection against
The encroaching ruin that is sensed.
Words fly like fast-falling fire
On volatile pages that, exploding, shatter
Rancorous raucous reality
And I leave in glorious clatter
Everything that’s supposed to matter.
Here sit I, wrapped and stoic
In fire and peace together,
The nascent nagging of necessity
Is felt like the prick of a feather
As I finally release my tether
And float in fictional felicity
Where I will not care whether
This makes me idiotic or heroic.
As you sit in your bedroom, legs extended toward the foot of the bed and your back leaning against the wall, you can feel the heavy weight in your heart beat against your chest. It beats arrhythmically, out of tune with your heart and the pumping blood that courses through your body.
The weight is silence. The silence of the quiet thump of your heart and the rushing of blood in your ears. The silence of thousands of synapses firing as wild, uncontrolled thoughts tumble through your mind without leaving more than a faint trail that is wiped away by the same winds that give them agency. The silence of love unspoken and bitter last words that can never be reclaimed. A silence so complete that you can feel your voice, the voice with which you narrate your existence and that gives you a sense of self, fade and crumble in its face.
Outside, there is a similar weight pressing inward. It works its way through the blanket that wraps your legs and the sweatshirt you wear until it nestles against your skin like an itch you can never quite find, no matter how long you scratch.
This weight is also silence, but a separate silence. The silence of a fan blowing in the background, a constant whir that never ceases or varies in any perceptible way. The silence of an apartment full of people who are all busy with quiet things. The silence of a nearby highway humming with the steady stream of cars full of people who make their way from one place to another without ever conceiving of you as a being with your own hopes, dreams, and thoughts.
Some people, somewhere in your building, make a small noise that you know exists, but it is not strong enough to make its way through the walls and plaster that guard your apartment against their intrusion. The few people who, passing in their cars, look in your direction cannot see you for the brick and aluminum that guard the outside of your building against intrusion.
The two weights press against each other, pulled to each and yet repulsed by each other, constantly trying to escape from the other in one direction while being pulled toward it in the opposite direction. As the ebb and flow of their tugging begins to tear you apart, you quiet your mind and lay aside all of the rambling, rumbling thoughts that tumble through your mind.
This new silence, the silence of the mind after a long day; the silence of the mind when all thought has come to naught; the silence that reigns over the darkest moments of humanity; the silence that lifts up and glorifies the brightest moments of our lives and the lives of those we love; this silence settles into your mind.
As you sit and feel the power of this new, third silence, you let it flow out of you. It sweeps down to your heart and pulls the first silence with it. It glides outward then, capturing the second silence in its grasp and slowly wraps Silence around you, embracing you with a blanket devoid of warmth but resplendent with comfort. It pulls and tugs until not a scrap of you is left uncovered and slowly settles until you can feel it seep into your very bones. It takes such a hold of you that you are left wondering if there ever was something other than silence in your life; you wonder if have ever had a voice or heard a sound or if it was all a dream from which you have woken.
You feel the muscles in your chest expand and contract as you breath. You feel the muscles in your throat prepare the way for the word that will shatter the silence. You feel your tongue curl and move so that, as the vibrating air passes, it will make the correct sequence of sounds that will forever destroy this heavy, peaceful silence. As it builds, you can feel it coming, you can feel an end to everything you’ve ever know coming on the crest of this wave.
And then your muscles relax and the moment is passed. As your breath keeps its place in the first silence, your throat keeps its place in the second silence, and your tongue keeps its place in the third silence, you feel a fourth silence settle over them all. With this silence, the silence of the word unspoken, you feel the warmth that was lacking settle into you, the comfort is no longer cold and strange but familiar in a way that you cannot comprehend but wish to never be without again.
I am relaxing on my bed, right arm tucked behind pillows that support my head and left leg crossed over right. My toes, freed from their normal cotton restraints, idly fidget in the cold wind that blows through my apartment. In my free hand, I hold a book over my head so that, should I begin to doze, I will not sleep for long. A book to the face is enough to wake most anyone.
I stir as the wind picks up, the unseasonable chill it carries into the beginning of summer deepening. It convinces me to wrap my lower legs and feet in a blanket. A chill breeze is easy to ignore. The seeping cold is not. My nose grows cold and I occasionally wish for a light blanket for my upper body as well, but not enough to pull myself away from this place of peace and relaxation.
I begin to doze every page or so. At one point, I miss my face and my doze extends into a short nap. It would have been a long nap if not for the flecks of icy water that splattered on my elbow. I wake, some five minutes after my nap began, almost an hour after I cease to notice the world around me, to find the rain sheeting down outside my window. The cold gusts that had been pushing through my apartment now carried rain with them, as far as my bed. It is unexpected. The forecasts called for clouds and wind, no rain.
I rouse myself from my stupor, propping myself up on my elbows so I can nudge the window, closing it to about a quarter of its full capacity. After fumbling for my bookmark and putting my book on my bedside table, I lay back again. I breath deeply of the damp heady aroma of mixed rain and churned dirt that flows in through my window and think of nothing as I stare into the sky. My peace grows as I let my senses embrace this rain.
Two minutes in, I am roused by the familiar anxiety of every unexpected storm. I rise from my bed and trek into the main room. There are no raindrops on the window screen and half the small porch beyond it is still dry. My couch is safe unless the wind changes. I stand and watch the waves of rain cascade through the parking lot, hammering the puddles that never seem to disappear these days and making me glad I no longer live at the bottom of a hill.
I retire to my room again and find the playlist I’d created not even a week ago. I turn it on and let the five songs that remind me of the calmness and relaxation I only truly feel during rain storms play through the speakers of my small stereo. I take my place back on my bed, but leave my book on the nightstand. This time, I do not begin to doze. This time, I stay and breath in the rain as it falls, wishing I had a proper porch on which I could watch it. After a few minutes, I no longer desire it. I am content to recline on my bed and let it play itself out as I experience it through my window.
It takes only half an hour. Longer than other storms I’ve seen this month, but still nowhere near as long as I would like it to be. My playlist has only made it halfway through its second rotation. The rain leaves me behind with nothing but the damp, acrid scent of a small woods holding onto the humidity that it has acquired. This humidity is released slowly. Even when I climb into my car for work the following morning, it will still be there, making the whole area feel almost like a chilly sauna.
But tonight, as I drift off to sleep, the churned earth and plant matter scent of the rain and forest will keep me company. I return to my book and sigh contentedly, no longer focused on the storm’s end. It will be there in a few hours, when I need it. Tonight, I will sleep well.