Updated: Oct 26, 2021
Close your eyes and take a deep breath...
Where does your mind take you to, in that moment? I often picture myself in a wide open space, somewhere outside with a blue sky. Whether by the sea or in a meadow, the expanse of sky quickly filters into the image that I conjure up. I think it is a way of me tapping into my childhood perception of long, summer days, free of responsibilities. With the space and the sky, comes an inner calm - even if it is just for a few moments within a busy day.
I have often thought that it is this calm and quiet stillness that I am searching for. No doubt a little of this would benefit me, as much as it would anyone. However, recent weeks have given me cause to reflect upon this more deeply.
Surprisingly, I have begun to think that I am actually not very good at just being quiet. Akin to the famous song, something within the 'sound of silence' is unsettling. Certainly an enforced silence does not suit me. Laying in a hospital bay, waiting for a procedure, was not the best circumstance for reflection but it is at such times that we tend to evaluate what is important to us. It was such a time that I recall now. On that day, I focused upon the strip of blue September sky that I could see through the window across the ward. I listened to the strange melody of busy voices entwined with the accompanying regular beeps of nearby monitors. It's fair to say that I did not relish being alone with my thoughts at that time.
However, other quiet times have shown me that stillness and silence generally, do not sit well with me. I need an accompaniment, or perhaps a distraction. I believe that I actually enjoy the background hubbub noise of a busy coffee shop, or to have music playing or the television on in a room, whilst I am writing or sorting other tasks. When I find myself in silence, I feel the need to punctuate the void by saying something. My daughter is the opposite - quite content to quietly read or paint, without superfluous interruptions. All this time that I have been advocating the yearning for calm and peace, have I been lying to myself? I think I might have been.
I don't like bedtime, as it takes me so long to settle into sleep these days. I wonder how these people do it - the ones who drop off to sleep as soon as their heads sink into the pillow. Me - I lay there in the darkness, trying to will myself to sink into the calm seas of a deep sleep. yet my mind has other ideas. Why would it let me drift away, whilst it has the day's unfinished business to process? The thoughts that I successfully directed away with each little distraction during the day.
Even writing has been put on hold recently, batted into the long grass by the latest hard hitters that life has thrown at me. This blog has taken me over a week and several attempts to write, and I'm wondering as I complete it, if anyone will think it worth the effort. I guess that is the voice that I don't want to hear among the silent moments - my inner voice of doubt.
When laying in that hospital bed, I had to be quiet and I had to let those thoughts run around my head. I determined at that moment to try harder, to accomplish things that I set out to do, rather than shelve them at the first distraction that comes along. After all, we well know that it is the things that we did not do that we regret the most. I am trying to focus on that a little, even if I have to embrace the stillness and learn to reflect positively during the silence. For when I do, somewhere between the doubts and the wandering mind in the darkness, the seeds of poetry are sewn.
I had a dream the other night
Of Polaroids and petals,
Both were strewn across clean sheets,
Fleeting moments spread before me,
Cascades of joy and youth,
Hints of pleasures shared,
An innocence of truths.
Pastels on my pillow,
Comforting my dreams,
Soft, nostalgic echoes
Of places I had been.
(Polaroids and Petals - Karen Honnor 2021)