Silence. Finally the ever busy buzz of activity in the house has ceased and I am alone. I walk through the rooms, noting the abandoned piles here and there – there can be no doubt this house is very clearly lived in. I revel in the quietude of the moment. Not just the lack of chatter but the constant buzz of energy has ceased. I am very clearly alone.
After dinner I open the door and let the dogs in. They are restless for a few moments, then each finds the perfect space of floor to sink into. We are peaceful and settle into the tranquillity of evening. I savour the silence for a few moments. Make myself some tea and breathe in the solitude.
But too soon I start to long for a connection. It is difficult for me to be alone. Although I crave it when the children are home, pulling me in a million different directions at once, I don’t do well in isolation. I know that tomorrow will be productive and I will be grateful for the time to devote to writing, finishing the project at long last. But tonight I’m too tired to work. I consider watching a movie. I try reading for a while but the attention of a good book keeps slipping from me.
Now it is too quiet. Too early to sleep. And I inwardly shake my head at myself. All year I’ve been longing for some quiet space to myself. Now I have it, I’m not sure what to do with it.
I turn to my computer and surf the ‘net until I find some old articles written by some of my friends. These are articles that have little to do with my own academic work – this is not research in the traditional sense. But it is re/search of those individuals I come into contact with on a daily basis. Reading their work makes me see them in a new light. So often we only see a single dimension of those around us – the professor or the administrator. The writer, the poet, the actor, the musician. The banker. We have this need to label. But I delight in the surprise. Each of us is such a myriad of little pieces, some exposed, some hidden, some come to light only in certain circumstances. I’m forever reminded not to pre-judge. Stereotypes are defensive comfort mechanisms. It is easier to label. Much harder to acknowledge the Other. Really see it, without suppositions or judgments. Just watch and enjoy.
I find one old article written by a colleague. It grabs my attention because it is at once a critique of one of my favourite books and a self-deprecating commentary on teaching in the university. I delight in the crisp words with a touch of irony bubbling just beneath the surface. I adore a well woven story but admire even more an academic article that captures my attention, entertains and educates. I consider the talent that I’ve been exposed to through my academic career. If I wasn’t naturally curious I would never read half of the work that my colleagues are undertaking. It makes me want to stretch and reach for more myself. Once again I feel very thankful for the textures that continue to sweep across my path.
The quieting of busy-ness in this house, gives me space to appreciate these gifts. This is a good way to begin the week.