a quick note of personal honesty

SO! Last night I slept in the house all alone; Marc went back to the city for three nights, and I’m here car-less and in the silence. I was a little bit afraid but not too much. There are so many second homes up here — lots of people in the city keep a summer home in the mountains — and if anyone had been watching the house, they might’ve thought that the house would be empty. No car in the driveway, after a few weekend days of a car in the driveway, typical summer home appearance. Apparently there were two escaped and violent convicts from Tennessee in this specific area (even spotted on Saturday in Margaretville, the nearest hamlet and where we shop for groceries), I mean this sounds like a movie doesn’t it!

So I left a light on downstairs last night and the fan was whirring in the bedroom window, and I hoped for the best. And of course this morning I woke up unmurdered. 🙂

But my quick note of personal honesty is that I’m so very very glad to be alone in the house for a few days. Marc is so chatty. So chatty. Chat chat chat chat chat. And he’s not a loud talker, more of a mumbler, so it takes a bit of focus to hear him….and he is a slow talker, and he just seamlessly goes from topic to topic in one very long breath until he runs out of air so it’s hard to get a word in, and by the time he stops for a breath the topic has changed a couple of times from what I wanted to say in response to where he started.

There are trailheads all around us — this was a walk to the Lost Clove trailhead after dinner yesterday. It’s just so beautiful I can’t really believe it.

The relief is, of course, that we are in this very large space, two floors and a full basement, and then the glorious outdoors –so it’s not like being in the tiny little apartment in the city, where there is no place to step aside for a moment of solitude. The house is so tightly built, and so well-insulated, that unless we are on the same floor I can’t make out anything he’s saying…..and while I have told him that 2.3K times by now, he just keeps chatting even if I’m on a different floor.

So there is today’s moment of personal honesty, not appropriate for the Heaventree post I’m composing in my mind. So much to share about the early days of living here, both in the area and in this house, but that will be a different post to be written later.

[And in the “good grief, she would complain if she were hung with a new rope” category, the irony is not lost on me that I lived in a kind of despair with my first husband, who almost never spoke, who never shared himself in any real way, and who wasn’t at all affectionate….I never dreamed I would complain about someone talking too much, telling me his thoughts and feelings, and being affectionate! I keep having these moments of awareness during my ear-craving for a bit of silence that he is wanting to share himself and his thoughts with me, and I’m grateful for that. But with just a little bit of silence too. (Please.) (Thank you.)]

a silent report

silenceI wonder why all the images from a search for the word ‘silence’ are black and white (and mostly white). That’s actually very interesting to me and something I want to think about [note to self].

Today marks the first week of my anti-flailing project and it’s been really interesting. There is really just one part to it, but one aspect is having its own repercussions so I’ll talk about them separately: doing one thing at a time, and spending a lot of time in silence.

My efforts to do just one thing at a time, to give all my mindfulness to whatever I’m doing, have been about 90% successful. I’ve noticed that when I’m very tired, my monkey mind appears and just won’t sit still. So I go ahead and just do whatever kind of silly things I want to do, however multi-tasked I want to do them. When I made my meals, I really just made my meals (chop wood, carry water). I tried to enjoy the ingredients, the preparation of them, their beauty, the smells — and then I just ate my dinner and tried to slow down from my usual gobble. Usually I eat and watch The Daily Show or something, but eating in silence and slowly has turned out to be kind of wonderful. It has not been hard to do this, at least in the first week.

During my walk last night I realized that I feel like I’m not getting anything done. And I’m probably not getting as many things done as I used to! That’s probably true. The things I do also take a little longer because I’m trying not to dash through them. But I feel so much calmer (though my sleeping has gotten weird….). I’m breathing better, by which I mean I’m actually breathing. I find I’m walking more slowly, don’t know if that’s related but it feels like it is. I’ve also noticed that my mind gets very tired in a way I’m unfamiliar with — like an unused muscle or something. I’ll be curious to see how this changes. Doing so many things at once, having so much stimulation coming at us all the time as we do these days, surely contributes to a harried feeling. It did for me. Harried and fractured. I’m feeling that a lot less, at least here at the end of the first week. I’m going to keep doing this, I like it a lot.

Silence. OK, this one is the big shocker to me. Doing one thing at a time means not also having music playing in the background. (For me anyway.) When I first moved back to Austin, it was the silence that was so very difficult. I’d never lived alone, there was always someone around, they played music or whatever, lots of sounds. Sitting in the silence then felt like it was going to be my undoing, so I got to work on that.

Now, though, the silence has become rich and beautiful. I love the silence. And I’m so shocked by that, I would’ve bet a dollar to a donut that I couldn’t do it. Yesterday I played some cello very softly in the background while I was working, and I kept lowering the volume and lowering it until it was on mute. It might be playing still, I’ll have to check. I love walking around in my house in the silence. I love sitting and reading in the silence. I love thinking and writing in the silence. And there’s surely no surprise here, but my mind has been thick with ideas. I don’t know if that’s due to the silence, or the mindfulness, or what I’ve been reading (probably a combination), but in the silence I can hear them.

I attended Quaker services when we lived in Virginia and they have meetings for silent worship, no one speaks unless they feel led to do so. And then they sit and the silence settles down again. They do this so they can hear the voice of God, which you can do in silence. Some monks live in silence. I get the power of it and every day I can’t wait for the silence. Isn’t that weird?

And it’s probably a consequence of all this together, but time seems to be moving more slowly. I dig that too. Onward to week two.