Yesterday afternoon the hot sun returned to us. I changed into a swimsuit, took Hemingway’s A Movable Feast out to my favorite chaise lounge, and laid on my belly, propped up on my elbows to read. His simple but seductive descriptions of Paris quickly transported me to the New Orleans’ French Quarter (my closest approximation). It made me want to walk, write, explore, and express the thrumming affection for the French Quarter that has grown in my heart these past several years. Good reading always makes me want to write. It took some effort, but I quieted those impulses in order to really accept what he was offering.
The farm was quiet and calm, making it easy to slip away into another mental scene. The sun heated and seized at my skin until I could feel my pulse in my scalp and my legs were slack and relaxed. One bead of sweat formed between my shoulder blades and tracked in a zig-zag down my back. I was reading about Paris in early spring, when the cold rains threatened both bloom and joy, so the contrast was fun, interesting. It heightened the sense of transport.
Then, with no warning, I heard a scuffle to my left. A crunchy, leafy, noisy explosion from my peripheral there. A young red hen was running and kicking her legs, slashing a path through the undergrowth nearby.
The weird thing is that I was so transported, so disconnected from the farm at that moment, that I didn’t recognize her. I didn’t just not know which hen she was; I could not for several moments even think of what kind of animal she was. What the heck is that? I closed my book and stared at her until the word pulsed silently in the forefront of my mind like a digital cursor, chicken.
Oh thank goodness, that’s right. Chicken. Okay.
It was a bizarre feeling. But it is also very in keeping with life lately. We are navigating so many unthinkable changes and ongoing heartaches that anything seems possible and nothing feels familiar.
Another bead of sweat formed and raced down my back and Sonia (our fluffy grey cat) mewed and twisted her way over to me, curling up beneath the chaise lounge. A rooster crowed nearby, and I was happy to know he was a rooster. I closed my eyes and took stock of other sounds around the farm, quiet as they were, reconnecting myself to reality.
I need to do this with all of life, too. Stop and take inventory of what remains, of what is real and true and knowable. Especially the plain, simple things. I need to stitch myself slowly and neatly back to the fabric of life, making the tears stronger and calming the frays. (Thank you, Anne Lamott for this easy metaphor.)
What are you reading this weekend? Does it transport you this vividly? Have you ever felt so disconnected from life that you have to consciously stitch yourself back to what matters? Only you can do this for yourself. Be honest. Maintain clear vision and focus. Take it slow and steady.
And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow;
they toil not, neither do they spin. ~Matthew 6:28