I can’t explain why it seems harder to carve out time to write just now. June is a wonderful month, full of green, the sequence of flowers and shrubs, and even the weather that dances from 60 to 90 degrees almost every other day. Life is full to the brim, so shouldn’t there be more time to grab a moment and put fingers to keyboard? After I reached for the paper on the kitchen table, the Reflection for the Day lay open before me. None other than (almost) neighbor, Henry W. Longfellow, with this:
“Let us, then, labor for an inward stillness.”
I torn the piece out to carry with me, knowing that somehow those words would reach this blog.
From this moment the day progressed through some breadmaking, normal “work from home” duties, errands, even some resting outside in order to rest the dog. But all too soon, I found myself stomping around because I didn’t know how to turn on the outside water, or rather, I thought I knew, and now I can’t; the overfull dishwasher door won’t close and I don’t know why; and the last straw: I caught my sad self bellowing out to no one in particular,
“DIDN’T WE USED TO HAVE A SCREEN ON THIS NEW KITCHEN DOOR, OR AM I LOSING MY MIND??”
This is a far cry from any make or model of inward stillness. And as it turns out, it will rain today, watering the garden. The husband will return home from a road trip weary, but able to fix the miracle machine whose loading and unloading marks its own rhythm, and will steady me if I let it. In a moment of either fear-of-a-crazy-mother or profound pity, the tall son came and figured out how to make the screen in the door show again. Now I ride the train to work as the sun peeps out. It feels a little more peaceful.
Perhaps the point to contemplate from Longfellow is not the measure of stillness we think we must already have achieved in ourselves, like a little inert box inside us, ready to pull out before we shout or stomp. Rather, he says, let us labor for it. Stillness takes work and time, patience and practice. We’ll fail, but we’ll try again. We can labor for a better way to pace ourselves for the grand adventures in life, be they out on the high seas, or in our backyard. Do you agree?