“a small figure sits, eyes closed, waiting.”
I’m sitting in Cafe Beano as has become my morning routine. The snow is falling gently outside, and I can hear the clatter of the coffee shop around me. Fragments of conversation and broken laughter, punctuate the bits of Beck I can hear over the small Bose speakers nestled in the corners of the shop. I sip my Americano and gaze out the window that’s covered in hand cut paper snowflakes, and I can’t help but think that what I long for is somewhere out there… In the simplicity of the falling snow.
And, as I have done before, I close my eyes and take my consciousness away from where I am. i travel out to the mountains and into the silence of the white forest and I become peaceful, momentarily content — remembering. But I become aware of something just outside the walls of my mind. A feeling of unease creeps up the stairs and onto the front porch, and surrounds me in a cold damp sadness. Something has gone wrong. And I drift, pulling my attention back quickly to where I’m sitting.
Why do I feel this way? After all, I grew up in the prairies but was raised in the mountains. It has always held a powerful place in my heart. A place of sanctuary. A place where I have been able to feel safe and content. A place of love and nurturing, inner kindness and self reflection. A place where I would go to simply get closer to what I might call “God” — if I can ever call it that as we have never had a very good understanding of one another. I have commonly referred to this as — the “Church of Nature”. Where I feel most connected to my spiritual self. My loving self. My creative self. I could walk and sit for hours, alone, and feel a presence unlike anything I had felt before.
But unfortunately, I’ve discovered on several day trips in the past couple of years that nature doesn’t heal me like it used to. Somethings not right in the forest. There’s a darkness that fills the cast shadows of my closest friends.
I used to believe that the forest was very quiet compared to the noise of the city. But I now know that the woods were very loud compared to the silence I feel within me now. This silence reveals only one thing. A cavernous expanse of emptiness and a small figure sits, eyes closed, waiting.
Do you ever wonder why so many of us are never truly happy or content and are in need of constant distraction…? It’s because we don’t listen to the very thing we should be listening to and should have listened to all along — Ourselves.
Because when we’re quiet – standing in a shower, laying in a meadow, looking into a fire long after everyone else has gone to bed, sitting on a hill or a bench by the river, and turn our attention inwards, that small but powerful voice speaks to us and knows truth and understanding. We’ve all heard it. Call it your gut or your intuition. It’s uncanny how we seem to just know that what it’s telling us deep down, is true. And in many ways, frighteningly frank.
But the winds of fear blow its’ message into the coldest, darkest corners of ourselves. Should you wake up and accept change? Follow your bliss? You can only hold back that ocean for so long. It’s always at your feet, erasing who you think you are, eroding your defences, rationalizations and coping mechanisms.
And it’s this tsunami of change that washes away the person I used to understand as “Grant”. The father, husband, and friend. The photographer. The man who was always light and fun, never taking anything very seriously — singing and playing guitar. How I view the world. A product of my parents and their beliefs, seeing through the lens they gave me as a child, believing this was the only way to see the world and the right way. This was the person I grew up with. The one I always believed to be…me.
And now the wave of mid-life rushes in and efficiently smooths the sand of the footprints I had left behind. This beach stretches on in both directions, but with no record of me being there. I can clearly see where I have been, and can clearly see where I am going, but I have no sense of who it was who walked before, and who it is who walks now.
This metamorphic change has begun to show me someone else. Another, that has been with me the whole time. The quiet voice. The one that speaks to me when I’m alone. Compassionate, and so very very patient — sitting quietly and waiting.
I stare out at the snow again.
I begin to understand that everything I used to seek comfort in, has become quiet for a reason. It has not abandoned me, but is waiting for me, so I can experience the true solitude and stillness of a mind letting go. It’s a little overwhelming, and very frightening. We are so used to the white noise of our lives that we don’t hear it any longer. Don’t understand that we have become numb and spiritually distant, and that our pointless daily routines are there by the choices we have made for our whole lives. But we feel powerless to change it.
In this silent space I will find my own answers. Answers that don’t come from my family, my friends, or my fears, or what I have read or believed before, or from any group, organization or institution.
I will find these answers within myself. And I will begin to realize the most important aspect of all of this…
That I have a choice.
And in that choice lies…