This morning I woke up with an article from the NYT about a reporter who tried to avoid reading about Trump for a week.
Impossible, you say and yes, that was the reporter’s experience, too. He’s everywhere, in the news, on our social media pages, in conversations at work and in cafés. This level of intensity is not sustainable, and it may be a global preoccupation with Trump as well, because, literally, everything hangs in the balance. People sense this everywhere, which is why we can’t turn off. We’re dancing on a volcano and can’t look away.
I feel burned out by Trump, burned out by work and burned out with the rain, so when I saw some sunbeams enter our house this morning, I decided to take the day off– to deal with some life shit (like getting rid of all that carpet we pulled out) and allow myself to tune Trump and work out.
But first there was Frankie who needed to be taken in for his checkup with our wonderful vet, Dr. Laurie. I popped him inside my sweater and looked 9 months pregnant, but there was a doxie sticking out, observing the world and trembling like a leaf in a winter storm, not knowing what lay ahead.
Frankie’s stomach was still sensitive to the touch and his skin was a trifle too wrinkled, so more blood work was done and he received a subcutaneous (under-the-skin) hydration pouch to hydrate him some more. When he walked out, the pouch made him look like a dromedary; at noon, the pouch had slipped down to his side and now he’s walking with the pouch underneath his chest, like a woman whose breast implants have started to travel, with silicon ending up in all the wrong places. He just gave me that look: Can we sue already?
For some odd reason it also reminded me of an illustration in Le Petit Prince, the one where the cobra devours the elephant. As a child that illustration mesmerized me to no end:
I guess you can feed the gullible imagination of a child anything…
Anyway, After doing some cleaning inside, I noticed how Teddy (my other dachshund) was basking in the sun outside and I decided to join him for a few minutes with Frankie in my lap. The trees are blooming, the grass is a neon green and the sun felt warm and healing. Teddy was inhaling, then sneezed, but looked at me and seemed to say: Listen to the wind in the trees, listen to the sounds of the garden coming out of its winter sleep, listen to the peace of Nature.
I’ve given up on God and Catholicism years ago (although that hot new pope has made me faintly nostalgic for the mystique of Sunday Mass, the smell of incense and the sound of a boys’ choir singing in Latin), and I don’t believe in Heaven but if there’s one thing that has become stronger in me it’s my appreciation of Nature and its ability to soothe the soul. If there is a God, I, like Emerson and Spinoza, believe that God (and this is an indifferent God, I’m sure of that) gets manifested through Nature. Did Emerson call it immanence?
When I jumped in the car to pick up my weekly vegetables (from a farm– which gets delivered to an address in Orinda) and drove through the hills of Orinda and saw the green hills as if I were driving in Ireland somewhere, I found myself turning off the radio, opening the windows and listening to Nature once again. Birds, the wind, a faint hum from the highway down below… beautiful. Life doesn’t get any better than that, but we have to take the time to stop and listen– forget about our sorrows, and really listen to the sounds outside to gain some peace within. I don’t do this often enough, I realized, but should do it every day– even if it’s for five minutes of my day. What gives?!
I’m writing this with Frankie sleeping peacefully near my desk. There is a sad sac of skin under his chest as if he swallowed a mini elephant, but his posture says bliss.
Yes, sometimes we just need to just shut up, listen and be grateful to be alive. Animals know this. We do too, but need to be reminded. I’m reminding you now. Forget everything and allow yourself to listen carefully. It’s never truly quiet but you’ll find a new kind of quiet within. Shhhhhhhhh. Listen. You can do it.