On the Noise of August
The wisdom of shabbat, or the sabbath. One day a week, try no work, no electronics, no driving. Choose a day and make it yours!
I feel a bit like a rudderless sailboat right now. I drop the last of my three daughters off at college this Saturday to start her freshman year. My wife passed away from breast cancer five years ago leaving me with three teenage girls. They have been 100% of my focus the last few years. I am now the sole inhabitant of our home of twenty years that is busting at the seems with....stuff. It's so staggeringly quiet. I am an Enneagram 5. So, it's not unusual for me to get stuck in my head. I think I have read every book out there on "Launching your second act!" I guess that starts Sunday morning. I am also thinking a lot about other places and dreaming of rain. Today is the 33rd consecutive day it has been over 100 degrees here in Texas. It's brutal and there is no end in sight. Everything outside is brown and dead. Send some of that rain my way if you can :)) Really enjoy your posts. I grew up in Massachusetts and this is the first summer in 10-years I haven't spent two weeks on the Cape. Never going to make that mistake again.
So much familiar here, but YES to the pause. Sitting in a meeting, I always feel like the pressure is off - I'm not supposed to do anything other than sit there (and occasionally speak!). I almost always feel calmer at the end of the hour, and I do feel like it helps me when I have to get back to the busy stuff.
Somehow, we've got to find a way to make being busy very uncool!
As usual your post reaches exactly where and when it hurts.
Supposedly in holidays I begin each day full of hope that I will achieve everything I want to do and I go to bed exhausted and guilty for all that I haven’t done. I wake up often before dawn with that shortness of breath while I try to create in my head the perfect timing that will make it possible, the next day, to get through my endless to do lists...
This always makes me think about the poem Leisure by William Hery Davies:
“WHAT is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—
No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.”
The precious times of our days, when we feel at peace and so deeply alive are those small moments. Listening to the rain on the roof, exchanging long looks with a beloved dog...
Then I hope I can replace “to do” by “to care” and do from a place of love, not from a place of duty. That place of love I can reach and inhabit when I also take time to stop and “stare”.
Here is a little text I wrote some time ago:
With all my gratitude for what you write and share here on Substack.
May I say how much I enjoyed this? I can't yet pinpoint why, exactly, have to reread again, which I will do with pleasure, but the whole essay kept me spiraling along until I got to the "umph" part, for me, which was the idyll of Maine and how it's not. (New Englander here too, and it's all of us, I'm afraid.
I was mowing the other morning at 7, watching the sky, because we've had so much rain we all grab windows where we can.) The poem that opens. The part about planning the day by working backwards. The rain on the roof (we have metal roofs and it sounds insanely loud) reminding you of bacon frying. The whole sensory mix-up of life. Great post. Thank you.
I love Petey. I’m trying to reconcile growing old with our pup, but her death at 13 was so sudden. I hold both gratitude and deep sadness in my heart. I will think of all of you during your special season in Maine.
I have so often had this same thought--we moved to a quieter, simpler place (than the city we moved from--NYC), but carried all of our habits with us. It's taken years and years to unwind the busyness and constant work of our old life...still unwinding.
I learned of the concept of geographical cures in AA and why they never work, because wherever we go we bring ourselves....
Sobriety has allowed me to experience my life with a deeper clarity, which still doesn’t mean that I don’t lend myself to becoming frantic or overwhelmed or hard on myself for not being further along in the day, in my career, in my fill-in-the-blank.
But after twelve years, I am better at catching myself before I spin too far; I’m better at trusting that I am enough, and trying to be more never got me anywhere good.
And what is it about midcoast Maine?? It’s my dream to be a year rounder there too 💛
Stopping, even for a little while often seems so difficult in the hustle and bustle of every day. I read this and I saw myself - not exactly the same but similar. One of the ways I made myself ow down is with writing my morning pages - before I start the day and go fill steam ahead - I sit with my coffee, write in my journal and try to ease into the day. Of course, that will probably all go out the window as soon as school starts next week!
We didn’t go to the mountains of NC for a few weeks this summer and I miss it so much!
Loved your writing but it made me nervous... this post
I’m trying hard to follow Allison Moorers recommendation of being present. To have presence in the moment
It’s quite calming
My favorite, especially those wrens ❤️