When Nothing Special is a Good Thing

Two longish walks this morning. But no run. My achilles needs the day off. The sky is cloudy, so the world is soft. So soft that the blackbirds’ voices puncture the dark. Their songs seem to sew the morning to the night, and I know the sun will rise soon.

I hum through my meditation. Sometimes I find myself carrying two thoughts and shake it off and begin again from the last transition. “Let’s take it again from…” In a way, all practices are performative. We teach ourselves. And we meet ourselves in the flow when it comes.

Heading back toward the house, I find a car with county licence plates in my driveway. It’s parked at an angle, blocking the street. The radio is blaring, but the car is empty. Rounding the mailboxes and heading into the courtyard, I see a guy coming from behind the neighbor’s bushes. He’s zipping up his pants. And he’s startled. He literally recoils from Leonard. I let go the leash go just a little looser than I tend to do when I see people are uncomfortable with dogs. I watch the guy make a wider arc, a longer walk back to his car than he’d planned. We have eye contact. I let him look away. For a moment I wished Leonard were still the kind of dog that growled at strangers. These days – because of his diet – his first thought upon seeing any stranger seems to be: Does this human have something to eat?

But this guy doesn’t know that. And while I know I shouldn’t feel a kind of satisfaction in that fact, I do. And I tell myself that “teaching moments” can have all kinds of lessons, for everyone-at-once. The universe can handle two thoughts at once.

I shake it off and return to the hum that calms me, that stimulates my vagus nerve.

It’s about four forty-five. I don’t expect I’ll see that car parked in my driveway again.

Ah-men.


The Christmas decorations are up. And I am reminded again that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. I have to tell myself to relax. The last thing I want right now is a holiday: an exceptional time. I am craving the patterns that are the background ritual of living. The everyday.

I read an article yesterday about how many people are exhausted from the crammed social schedule that the end of Covid 19 restrictions has brought. We’re supposed to be like cows let out of the barn now. Party. Fiesta. Forever.

All I want to do is take the train to work. Touch students on the shoulder. Hug friends. Say, “You look good today.”

I want to sweat in the hot yoga room at the gym, while the instructor makes bad jokes – or the other instructor attempts some little homily about love. (Or Love, as she’d say.) Then I want to take the train home and make dinner, sit with E. on the sofa and read. Or visit with L. where the conversation branches in ways that only seem to lead to more (always unfinished) ideas, where doors are always left open. A vibrating – humming – lifeline to the slightly larger circle, within the slightly larger circle of easy, everyday connections that don’t need an occasion.

Just a few predictable weeks would be soothing. I am not at all in the mood for sleigh-bells.

photo: Ren Powell

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