Friday, September 10, 2010

Living at the Speed of Light, Searching for a Zen Moment

al fresco dining during Andrea's last visit home...

From Jo Floyd Lucas

The clock says 12:34 AM. I should be exhausted after the day I put in, but I’m wide awake. I tried going to bed, but the night beckoned me, with the quiet rain from Hermine falling gently on the roof, the familiar sound of the ever-clogged gutter outside the bedroom window starting to spill over, and the persistent chirping of the crickets, who missed the memo that rain was arriving and they should seek shelter. No, this is not the time to sleep. These are the times I cherish.

I rose from the bed and went into the kitchen to put the kettle on to boil. As I often do during these special times, I took one of my fine bone china mugs out of the cabinet for my tea. Honestly, I tried to do it silently, so as not to wake anyone, but the china mugs gave their characteristic ‘clink’ as I took one off the top of another, and it made me smile. I love that sound. I made a steaming mug of vanilla chamomile tea, pulled the jar of honey from the pantry, and added a spoonful of it to the brew. Hmmm. What sweet goodness. So, here I sit in my overstuffed living room chair, a dim light from the lamp next to me, my tea balanced precariously on the arm of the chair, and my laptop in front of me. What a precious moment this is to savor, along with the tea.

I’ve always appreciated these special moments of quietude, as far back as I can recall. I’m sure it comes from being raised in a house full of activity, music, and discourse, with eight raucous people sharing one little Ruskin house. From the time my father would enter our bedrooms in the morning and proclaim, “Hit the deck! Rise and Shine!” until the final bath was taken at night and all six kids were in bed, noise was everywhere. I loved the rare quiet times. I even recall regularly calling out to my dad (who was the disciplinarian, of course) after going to bed, saying, “Daddy, I’m trying to say my prayers and Joyce keeps talking to me!” God forgive me, I wasn’t often really saying my prayers…I just wanted to have some quiet time!

As I grew up, I learned to be an early riser. I would sneak out of bed, much like I did tonight, and go outside early in the morning, before anyone else was up. Not even my mother would be awake. I would climb up the tree in the back yard as high as I could (which probably seemed much higher than it actually was), and look at a picture book before I could even read. As I got older, I’d sweep the driveway, rake leaves, or sit and draw. I loved to draw trees. Dead trees, leafy trees, beautiful trees, spooky trees, pine trees, willow trees, every tree imaginable. But whether it was the woosh of the broom, the rasp of the leaf rake, or the stroke of a pencil lead, there was something very soothing about the subtle, repetitive sounds that I could hear within the silence.

As I sit here tonight embraced by the nightsong, I am feeling the speed at which we live our lives today. I’m feeling the shift from summer to autumn, and I’m hoping the frenetic pace of life slows down just a bit for me now. This summer was difficult for many of us, and I spent most of it feeling discombobulated. It wasn’t that the summer was all bad. On the contrary, some extraordinarily wonderful things happened to me this summer. But I was…quite unsettled. Yep. Discombobulated. “Having one’s self-possession upset,” as my online dictionary so aptly puts it. I was thrown for a loop more times than I could count, and my usual self-possessed self was missing in action much of the time. Gosh, I hope to possess myself again soon.

I resolve to at least make an attempt to create more of these personal, special moments to cherish amid the speed-of-light pace which threatens to highjack my equilibrium. I’ll fix a few more cups of steaming vanilla chamomile tea. I’ll sit on a bench by the pond to meditate. I’ll sweep the driveway early in the morning once in a while. I’ll rake a few leaves. I’ll make more simple dinners to eat al fresco so I can observe the changing colors of my precious trees surrounding the deck this fall. Hmmm...maybe I’ll even draw a few of those trees.

Like the ripples in a pond when a stone has been thrown in, I felt the disturbance internally this summer. I hope that the autumn season brings with it the gift of a smoother, glassy surface upon which to reflect quietly on occasion.

Namaste. Shalom. Peace.

Meditation bench by the pond


  1. What a beautiful post! I feel serene just reading it! Thank you!

    Having one’s self-possession upset. Oh yeah, that was my summer, too. Oh yeah.

  2. Beautifully expressed Jo, as usual. I can just see us sitting down together for a shared cup of tea and I promise, I won't say a word! Shared silence is one of the best things in the world.

  3. Thank you, Reya. Many of my friends and family felt the same way this summer, but I think you and I got the discombobulation in spades! Much peace and love to you as we move into fall.

    Linda, I look forward with excitement to sharing that cup of tea with you soon! We may feel the need to break up the silence with a giggle or two, though! Much love, xoxo

  4. Oh Jo, I love this post! My life was just the opposite. My Mom and Dad set the table(or we did) every single night, fork on the left, knife turned in/with spoon, napkin under fork, "May I be excused?". so when I had my family I went the other extreme...Eat where you want, throw the forks, spoons, and knives on the table...
    Thank you my friend, so much love<3

  5. Thank you, Vicki. I didn't mean to imply there wasn't order in our mom and dad ran a very tight ship! It's just that, with 6 kids (four of them boys), there was always a certain noise level in the house.

    My mother, God bless her, was one of twelve children, so she was completely unfazed. She'd watch my brothers wrestle on the tiny living room floor after dinner and just smile and say, "Look at them...just like a bunch of bear cubs."

    I want that kind of composure! :-)

  6. wishing you as much time as possible reflecting on that shiny peaceful surface. the "plop" of the disturbance is inevitable isn't it? seems like retaining that equilibrium in the midst of the ripples is the challenge we all face. i for one take refuge in your writing.

  7. Thank you, Dubby...I just felt my heart smile.

  8. Me gusta más mucho tu escribiendo. ¡Fantástico como siempre¡

  9. Para lo quieres:
    (No uso más el Facebook.)

    ¡Hola, El Dubby! ¡Gracias!

  10. Thank you, David! No more facebook? ¿por qué?

  11. Es una historia larga. Basicamente, fue tiempo por el fin del Facebook. Había muchas razones. Pero, estoy aquí todavía. :)


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