May 072016
From Wikicommons inthe public domain

From Wikicommons, public domain

May 7, 2016  Perhaps the planet Mercury in retrograde is the reason today is not a good day. Or, perhaps it is the more prevalent and less cosmic force “Shit Happens.”

I’m on call for work, so the Administrator on Call iPhone is my constant companion.  And I’m in the middle of a multi-hour asthma exacerbation. It’s not quite bad enough for a trip to the Emergency Room, but not mild enough for me to scale a rock wall today.

I decided to take a nap, and before falling asleep, play some games on my tablet, while watching NetFlix (“Grace and Frankie,” Season 2).  Surrounded by two cell phones, a land line in the cradle nearby, a tablet,  cable remote, television remote for volume and on/off, and the Fire Stick remote.  My massage therapist believes that Wi-Fi gives off bad energy.  I’m in deep, deep, deep trouble if that is so.

Earlier today, my husband and I sat in our living room, side-by-side in recliners as my grandparents often did. He had been out shopping; I was talking on the phone with work. Suddenly, absolute silence. What was that? The silence filled the room and swallowed both of us. We loved it.

For a few minutes, we sat there absorbed in our being and the nothingness.

I remember silence. Do you? Didn’t silence leave us when cell phones became popular? Before that, you didn’t hear marriages disintegrating in the grocery store, or children disciplined via telephone in the lingerie department at Macy’s. More devices, less silence.

My husband and I had childhoods filled with silence, times of sporadic talking, and times of visiting with family and friends about nothing. We both grew up in rural northern Indiana where it wasn’t uncommon for people to go outside after “supper.”  We dared not call it “dinner,” that’s on Sunday at noon.

Our home had a small patio and a few lawn chairs.  My dad built a wooden picnic table that split into two benches.  After summertime suppers, the family often sat outside doing little and saying less.

Sometimes, we played catch, or as the sky darkened, we caught lightning bugs (fireflies to those who aren’t Hoosiers) in glass peanut butter jars. We watched the bugs glow until they died.

On clear nights in the country,  the full palette of stars rises across the sky. No city lights to block the full view of the Milky Way’s glory. I owned a hardback book about stars that my grandparents bought at Sandy Bookstore in Clearwater, Florida. My brother and I ripped through the pages, finding Aquila, the celestial eagle who formed part of the summer triangle of constellations.  This one I remembered, because Aquila was the same name of the lady who starched and ironed my dad’s white dress shirts for work. She always left my brother and me candy in a plastic bag attached to Dad’s bi-weekly shirt order.

My grandparent’s house featured a screened-in porch, with a sturdy, wooden swing at the south end. We sat on the porch swing or in metal, reclining chairs. Slide your finger along the underside of the seat, and the jagged metal might snag your skin and cause a minor wound.

We watched cars come over the Tunker Road hill from the north. We made a game of it. Whoever caught the first glimpse of auto lights got a point.  And there was no point in this game. No point at all.  Just a time to relax and chill and watch the night arrive.

On days when I am tied up with all ropes and knots of job, family, and home, it’s nice to take a break.  Ten minutes of silence, moments of watching the world go by, without comment.

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