I went for a walk last night…
I returned home from work last night to find the house dark and deserted. There was no illumination and there lacked any sound save for the sound of silence itself. Stephen was working and Nancy had gone out with friends. I backed my car into the driveway and sat quietly for a few minutes before exiting the vehicle. Darkness had taken over the day. It was quiet and peaceful, just the way I like it. As I approached my house I removed my keys from my pocket and unlocked the door. My left hand searched for and found the light switch. As I turned on the light the room erupted with light. It was not a pleasant light. It is the ugly blue hues of the overhead fluorescent bulbs.I stood in the doorway for what seemed like an eternity, my feet not wanting to move. I enjoyed the silence. The rest of the house remained dark and there was no greeting from my faithful friend, Jack.
I moved to the basement and removed the jacket which I had worn to protect me from the cold. The warmth of the house enveloped me like a warm blanket.After I changed I moved to the kitchen where I prepared my meal. I sat in silence as I ate. There was no company physical or otherwise. I enjoyed the time spent in thought as I practiced mindfulness eating. I became aware of and enjoyed the smell of the sauce as it enveloped the pasta spread on the plate. The cheese danced on my tongue and a smile enveloped my face. Comfort food. After I finished my meal I caught myself becoming lost in my thoughts. I smiled as I returned to this world for the second time tonight even more aware of the deafening silence which surrounded me.
I crossed the kitchen and mindfully washed the pot and utensils used during the making and consumption of my meal. I was aware of the hot, soapy water as it caressed my hands. My attention was briefly drawn away as I noticed a light flash above my head. I looked upward to see the motion sensor had been triggered by a passing rabbit. He nervously looked about while his mouth vigorously worked a selection of grass; his meal for the time being. I stopped washing for a minute and became entranced as I watched the rabbit. Other than his apparent nervousness, he appeared quite content. My attention and focus returned to the task at hand. I dipped my hands back into the hot, soapy water. My fingers gripped the sponge and caressed the plate in a circular fashion removing food from its surface and leaving behind a clean surface. As I rubbed the plate I thought of my meditation practice. I feel the same when I complete a meditation session…clean mind.
After I washed the pot, plate and silverware, I became aware of a presence at my feet. I looked down and to my left. Jack sat quietly at my feet. As our eyes met his short, stubby tail began to wag. His tail is so short his entire behind rhythmically moves with each wag of his tail. Our eyes met and our minds united in thought. I asked him if he wanted to go for a walk. He stood on all four legs and jumped placing his front paws firmly on my calf. He stretched and dropped back to a sitting position before walking toward the door. He positioned himself in front of the door waiting for me.
I retreated to the basement where I found it necessary to change my attire. The weather this week is unseasonably warm but still quite cold. If I were twenty years younger I may have found myself venturing outside wearing shorts. Not today. I dressed warmly and before heading back up the basement stairs, I peeked around the corner. Jack was also peeking around the corner. The last couple of years has found him fearful of navigating the bare wooden steps. He now will only peer around the corner waiting for the return of whoever has chosen to navigate those same steps. I walked up the stairs pausing for a second to zipper my jacket. I reached over to a neighboring shelf and pulled one of my favorite hats from the dark recesses of a box. I pulled the hat on and adjusted it so it covered my ears. With warmth assured I navigated the remaining steps. Jack’s tail wagged furiously as his excitement grew. I grabbed his leash and clipped it onto his collar. He walked toward the door and sat patiently waiting for me to follow.
I opened the rear door and Jack stood. His tail wagging with anticipation. With the door slightly ajar, his nose found the opening and he attempted to open it further as if to say, “Come on! Let’s go!” Once outside, he ran down the steps leading from the rear entrance of the house and headed toward the driveway. We walked toward the front of the house enveloped in the solitude of darkness. A slight breeze whistled through trees rubbing branches together and creating a musical sound reminiscent of a stringed instrument. We walked around the front yard stopping from time to time to sniff the air or listen to a sound. His ears rising and straining to hear what perhaps I could not hear.
We crossed the road to further our path. As Jack stops I do as well. I smell the brisk winter air and tilt my head toward the heavens in search of the stars. As I do so my thoughts race back to time spent in the clean, uncongested air of the Adirondacks. The lack of ambient light on a clear night allows all of the stars to be displayed on a celestial canvas. We return home and neither of us desires to enter the house. We enjoy our time spent outdoors too much. To hasten our retreat to the warmth of our abode, we sat in the stillness of the dark, feeling the cold concrete against our skin.
“I have met but one or two persons in the course of my life who understand the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks…Chancing to take a memorable walk by moonlight some years ago, I resolved to take more such walks, and make acquaintance with another side of nature. I have done so. Many men walk by daylight; few walk by night. It is a very different season.” – Henry David Thoreau, 1863, “Night and Moonlight”
I went for a walk last night…