One of my walks takes me along some conservation land in town. The other day I stopped near the parking lot to watch a man get out of his van, open the back trunk, remove a wide plastic stepping stool, place it by side door, and slide the door open. I expected to see a toddler emerge, but no, out wobbled a huge, white-faced golden retriever. Simple love.
For a little change from the natural world of fall foliage along Concord Road in Sudbury, I thought I show you photos from the man-made world of fashion along Via Tornabuoni in Florence. Whereas leaves are free around here, the outfits shown in these windows are in the thousands of dollars. No exaggeration. A designer dress falls in the range of 2000 to 3000 euro, or roughly between $2761 and $4142. Shoes are a little less, as are designer clothes for children! It's your choice.
Yesterday, one of those luscious autumn New England days, I took a friend to the town cemetery on the hill. Her husband is buried there and she loves to sit by his grave and enjoy the tree that years ago her family had planted near by. She sits for a while; I walk.
I wander up and down the rows, following the grassy paths past old and new gravestones. Old Sudbury names like Fairbanks and Hunt. Names of individuals that I knew: a teacher I taught with, a student I taught, parents of students I taught, a woman I played tennis with, church members, good friends. Of course there is sadness mixed in with the memories, but I’m comforted as I recall the good times we shared.
After my stroll, I sit and chat with my friend, sharing good times, creating memories.
We’re on the way home after a very wonderful weekend with family, wonderful but not particularly silent. There was our grandson’s marching band, the Red Sox win and non-stop conversation. Need I say more?
So what do I say about all of this in regards to silence, solitude and simplicity? No regrets, no complaints, but nothing profound. Just three thoughts: family and sports events don’t lend themselves to silence, solitude and simplicity; there will always be time alone after all the socializing; without joyful times, solitude can be lonely.
Busy days with family, October baseball, all good. But where is the silence? My goodness, we live in a noisy world!! That’s all I have to say!!
A smile is a gentle companion of silence, solitude and simplicity. It is quiet; it doesn’t invade anyone’s space; it is such a simple thing to do.
Today while visiting a friend at a rehab facility, she and i decided to smile at whomever came into the common room where we were sitting. And with that, a simply amazing thing happened. Well, not really amazing, when you think about it. We got smiles back--from a sad looking man, from a nurse, from another patient, from a family visitor. Each stopped to talk with us, and in doing so, gave my friend some much welcomed attention. Because of the smiles, my friend and I didn’t have to talk all the time, which was just fine. And there was an added bonus; the smiles deflected some of her pain.
I left leaving smiles in the room, hers and mine.
Now that I’ve been home from Italy for a week, I’ve settled into a gratifying rhythm of silence, solitude and simplicity. No question that such an existence can permeate my life here at home. I have chunks of silence and solitude and every day I am simplifying. I’m clearing out stuff, making the rooms look more simple.
However, all the stuff in this big house does distract me from my silence. Not that in-my-ears kind of silence, but that in-my-mind silence. It just exists, filling up all the places and spaces that aren’t empty. But I’m working on it; every morning, before I go to the library to write, I do a little clearing. Every day I’m making a few decisions; even getting rid of one thing helps clear my mind and my house.
I even considered taking a week and working through my waking hours, going through the house room by room tossing down to the bare minimum.
How about this challenge? If you could only keep 100 books, what would they be? How about that for a purge? 100 books, 100 kitchen items, 100 pieces of clothing. What would they be? I don’t need 100 pieces of furniture, so how about 20? I could settle on 20 pictures on the wall, but in the AR, I need all 300 little sitters.
It’s pretty silent around my house but nevertheless I‘ve been walking across the street to the Goodnow Library, my very silent town library each morning to write, continuing the habit that I started when I walked through the streets of Florence just a month ago to the Oblate Library.
In 2006 I closed the file on a book I had been writing about my trips to Scotland. Not a travel log, but reflections on my solitary travel. I don’t know why I stopped writing, just as I wonder why I have started again. Maybe it has something to do with the idea that we reinvent ourselves every seven years. Best I can come up with is the never ending search for meaning in our lives that I want to share.
Opening up a new file, a new book idea, has permeated my every cell, burst open my mind/body/spirit with purpose. This current writing project is driven by the same desires I have for this blog: to inspire, affirm and encourage others to follow their bliss, to search for their own meaning, to listen to their longings, to discover the fruits of silence, solitude and simplicity in their lives, to find their own cottage by the sea.
I’m reading memoirs and autobiographies and would appreciate suggestions from you (or any other suggestions). Post them as a comment or email me. Thanks. firstname.lastname@example.org
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