Perhaps the moments can be captured with eyes closed. Sitting at a desk in a small cubicle, office sounds filling your space added to the sound of the fan blowing at your feet, staring at numbers on a computer screen, close your eyes for a moment—no one will notice.
Sunday mid-morning. I step out onto the covered patio. The sun is bright. Squinting at the sparkle of frost-tipped grass blades, I inhale the gift God has given me. The experience may be best felt alone…or shared with your dog. Not a puppy. An older dog, wiser, quiet, appreciative—a shared understanding of the all-encompassing, if fleeting, joys of this private gift.
A bird flits from branch to branch. Tiny bird squawks, chirping and jumping, chirping and jumping. I watch the shadow of the bird on naked branches against the white of the vinyl-sided extension to the house. Long shadows intermingled with brilliant sun, some hours to mid-day.
There is no particular smell. Just freshness. What is the smell of freshness? Clean, crisp air. I breathe in, then blow out. White breath.
I turn and focus on a small diamond shape in the crosshatch vinyl slats surrounding part of the patio, partially screening my presence there. My dog starts to bark as he runs to the fence. Two yards down, his friend, a little Shih Tzu mix named Jack, is running his yard. Jack stops to acknowledge my dog, for a moment perched at the top of a rise in his yard, then turns and runs for the sheer joy of running. No answering bark today.
Sparky, my dog, lets his quieter, more reserved, “hello” bark continue in the direction of his backyard buddy two kingdoms down, then tapers off to a tiny “wuff, wuff” as Jack flies through the open door back into his house. Sparky sits down on pavement, cold but not wet, displayed in light, staring in the direction of his backyard friend. He is calm. He trusts he will see Jack later. I look at his shiny mahogany coat accented by what one might call golden tufts. A papillon mixed with a small dachshund, my dog, has beautiful coloring. His chest has some white, but his main coloring is a kind of tribute to autumn—rusty-mahogany, turning leaf, auburn-red-brown tipped in gold. His thick tail, the tail of a papillon, is all golden-beige. His muzzle is graying. His eyes are soft brown. I like when he parades around his yard, tail held up, ears at attention. When he is not concerned about hearing every sound, one ear droops. In the yard it’s usually droop, alert, droop, alert—happily prancing, then stock-still concentrating.
It is an old neighborhood. A confluence of tall trees, some hacked practically in half, vertically, to avoid power lines, but tall and strong, nonetheless, reaching to the skies. In the distance I see three very large birds lighting on the uppermost ends of the highest branches in view. I wonder what kind of birds they are. Crows? Hawks? But hawks do not travel in threes, do they? I realize I have seen less evidence of mice recently. Are the birds of prey responsible? Or is it my dog, or roaming cats?
Shaking that thought from my head I resume my study of the beauty of the morning. I want to hold it in. I want to keep it for myself, to be able to call upon it when I need it. Sometimes it is easy to call up, sometimes it is difficult.
The cubicle is boring. It is grey, grey walls slashed with a blue-green striping, sound-barrier carpeting up on temporary wall surfaces. There is no door to the cubicle, so sound comes in anyway, mostly unwanted, sometimes welcome. But not right now. The project has been tedious, numbers, always numbers. It’s not that I don’t like numbers. They are a form of measurement. Things need structure, measurement, calculation, content. It is good to form patterns, measure options, calculate forecasts, develop action plans. Stretching the brain to search for clues to create a better thing-a-ma-job or watch-a-ma-call-it, can be satisfying. Striving for the best thing-a-ma-job in the corporate world may be very gratifying, perhaps financially pleasing, perhaps award-winning…but it is still only a thing-a-ma-job, isn’t it?
I realize my shoulders are starting to feel sore and my right hand, perched on the mouse, is tingling, growing numb. I shake my hand while stretching my neck to the left, then to the right, front, back. Close your eyes, just for a moment, no one will notice, I tell myself. Because my multiple computer screens face a solid wall, my back to the open doorway of the cubicle, I know no one can see if my eyes are closed or open. The only give-away to my daydream state would be the eventual turning of the computer screens to the energy-saving mode from non-use for a period of time. The only “tell.”
Eyes closed, I reach for the image. It is elusive. But I need it. Just give it to me for a moment, please. Can’t…quite…get…it…
Maybe walking at lunchtime, alone, can help. There is a vacant lot between businesses on the east side of the factory. I start to walk along the west side of the building and anticipate the view of the east side. This side is concrete block, pavement, the occasional truck, person, goose, or goose poop. The back of the building is not any more glamorous, but the empty lot looms in front of me at this point, tall grasses, intermittent trees in various stages of growth, fronted by fencing I look through.
The walk is windy today…and cold. My eyes are wide open. Reaching for a memory is easy and hard. I just want to maximize the Sunday morning feeling, but too many other thoughts crowd in at the same time, jostling for position. I can’t wipe the unwanted to the side. I try, but the wanted keep sliding through, in, and around the unwanted. The deadline for the report—just after lunch, can I finish?—the smell of the smokers wafting on the winds from their designated perches outside the building—interference abounds.
I walk to the east side of a small outbuilding on the easternmost section of the fenced parking lot. Stopping for a moment, I turn to face the abandoned lot. Closing my eyes for a second, I call my dog’s running feet to the forefront of my brain. I picture his skinny legs hitting the ground as he joyously heads for the fence, looking for his buddy two yards down. I feel the cold, dismiss the wind, and open my eyes. A large bird lands on a scrawny tree branch not thirty feet from my face. I blow out the breath I didn’t know I was holding.