Today, I mowed my lawn.
On Thursday, I read a blog post by Jane Meyer that touched me. It’s lovely, and so are the photographs she included. But it reminded me of the quiet moments of my own life, the ones where I achieve a certain stillness, enough to reflect on the details of life around me and within me, and to understand who I am. These moments don’t come often. Not any more. I was thinking about that, after I read what Jane wrote. I feel sometimes like that sense of myself as someone to observe and understand belongs to a younger me. I was still figuring out what life was, then. Now, I’m living it. But do you ever feel, for a few minutes, as if you might lose yourself in the shuffle if you don’t find a way to be still once in a while?
Mowing my lawn is hardly an exercise in stillness. You may not be aware what an odyssey this mowing business is, in my life. You likely have not seen me stalking along behind the mower, cursing whatever president happened to be in office and further cursing his foreign policy and its impact on whatever ship my husband was on at that time. “If it weren’t for foreign policy,” I would mutter, shoving the grumpy mower over the uneven turf, “I might have some HELP mowing this blasted heath.”
The blasted heath remains to this day, and the mower, with the aid of duct tape, is still groaning across its swells and pits and gargling over the moss and the fibrous dandelion stalks. But the truth is, although my husband is no longer subject to foreign policy when it comes to lawn mowing, I still mow the lawn. The job is mine now. I did it for too many years. It worked its way into my life, and it doesn’t make me curse much any more.
I had stopped thinking about Jane’s post and my lost youth by the time I started mowing, and for a while, I just mowed. It’s hard labor of a sort, but it’s a bit soothing too. It’s undemanding. The mower doesn’t talk and I don’t answer. I just have to keep the cord from popping out of it, or getting tangled around a bush or a deck post. The rest of the time, I just walk slowly back and forth. Moving and breathing. And mowing.
Then I saw a robin. It flew into my line of sight and landed on the fence. “Hi, birdie!” I said. I remembered that I like birds. And other little animals. Little gentle animals, with bright eyes and tiny paws, or swift fluttering wings.
I thought, It’s one of those moments.
The robin flitted away, and I pushed my mower back across the grass. Maybe there are lots of moments like this. Maybe the robin comes every time I mow, and this is the first time I’ve noticed. Maybe the moments are not what is missing. Maybe I am.
Maybe silence is possible inside the noise of life. I just need to try a little harder to find it.