A literal presence—The Quiet—yet a figurative visitor, a permanent guest, a forgotten family member, a possible stranger we overlook as it breathes our air or lives in a corner room of our hearts, one which takes longer to disappear than it did to arrive.
It is there on a teacher's last day of school. Not the one on which the students all rush out after their final exams, leaving papers, pens, water bottles, candy wrappers, and books strewn about the halls and throughout the lockers. It is the last day of school for the teacher, once everything is packed away and the door is locked. Left behind is The Quiet, vacuously filling the void of the recently departed conversations, joviality, and reminiscences, traveling with the teacher down the long hallway and out the doorway into the fresh summer air.
It is there when we catch ourselves breathing the air, feeling the temperature on our skin, listening to the wind as it blows. It is there on that final day of summer camp when we hear the distant breakfast bell ring through the window beside our bed for the last time. It is there on graduation day as we jump in our car, soon after we roll down the window, right there before we turn on the ignition, before we switch on our exit music. It is there on a sandy Carolina beach at the break of dawn as we wade through the tide one last time before our vacation ends. It is there on the shaded porch as we finish a good book, understanding life a little better if only for a short time. The Quiet sits with us when we must catch our breath, when we take stock of our lives.
It is there when we carry our sons and daughters to college for the first time, to the bus which heads to basic training, to a new job in a different state, to the altar where they marry the love of their life. It is there when we must take our leave, looking in the rear view mirror, glancing over our shoulder for one last glimpse of a picture we want to keep forever in our hearts. The Quiet rides in that seat beside us even though we know that there is little room for it. We cannot help but include it as a passenger because it may be the only company we have.
It is there when we lose someone we love, a family member, a best friend, a loyal pet. It is there as sadness presses down on our chest, preventing us from taking the deep breath that we need to bridge the chasm that has opened in our heart. It is there as regret and guilt force tears to cloud our eyes from seeing life for the grandeur that it is. It is there when confusion erases the words we need to express our blessings and heartbreak.
Such is the challenge we all face in life. As we grow older, we perceive the The Quiet's fluid presence, recognizing its harshness, its indifference, its persistence, its impermanence, its encouragement, its tranquility. We carry the burden and blessing of perception in our lives, learning as we age that change, in all of its degrees and forms, always waits at our door, that door which remains perpetually ajar from previous visits. We realize that we cannot realistically keep our worlds picture-perfect all of the time just as we cannot simply snap our fingers and magically send the disheartening and bleak times away.
The Quiet frustrates us, angers us, and tortures us. The Quiet also stands with us, rests with us, and listens to us; it understands that our lives are full of change and that sometimes life is harder on us than we care to admit. The Quiet remains until it chooses to leave, until we are stronger, until a breaking dawn after countless sleepless nights arrives, until we are ready to live again.
|Taking my time with The Quiet.
Still learning lessons you have
taught me, Ranger.