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Monday, January 7, 2013

Looking Backward Across a Year in My Neighborhood

Evenings this winter, when I’m ready to turn out the reading light and go to sleep, which comes after David and I have watched our evening movie or a couple of episodes of “Ballykissangel” (a BBC series set in a small Irish village), I bring on sleep by revisiting in imagination the outdoor places where I sat quietly during the year past. My stated goal was to take an hour each week for what I thought of as my “stillness project,” and recalling those hours puts my mind in a relaxed and peaceful place.

I did fairly well with the project until toward the end of the year, when back problems curbed my enthusiasm, so my memories begin in the cold of January and circle through the seasons to the cold of December. My sketchbook is full of trees, weeds, old farm buildings, and a couple of away-from-home days, one in Arizona and another in the U.P. I remember winter hours of cold toes and fingers and summer hours filled with humming insects.

When I look at the stats for this one-year blog, I see that one post garnered almost no visitors. It was not an “exciting” outdoors day—but then, none of my days in this experience were “exciting” in any grand, headline-grabbing sense. No eagles landed in my field of vision, no white-tailed deer browsed close by, no turkey parades filed past. Mostly it was just me and the trees and weeds and wind and insects, chickadees and old buildings nearby and sounds of crows and traffic in the distance. Sometimes a squirrel.

The lessons of stillness began the first day. The challenge was to be quiet and patient and to welcome whatever came along. Even if there was only the breeze and a few snowflakes, it would be enough. Every day, every hour, however little it held, would be full and enough. And it was. It filled a treasure chest of memories for me.

Will this new year bring a new project? If so, it has yet to reveal itself to me.


Dawn said...

I don't think because there are no comments mean we didn't read...though it could be one we missed. Mostly I know for me anyway, sometimes I am just so overwhelmed and impressed by your ability to keep that project going that I had nothing to add! :)

I hope you come up with a project...though so far I am project-less for 2013 and that has a sense of freedom. On the other hand...seems something of a waste.

We'll both see I guess.

Kathy said...

It is interesting to read about your challenge, Pamela. Quiet times certainly aren't usually crowd-grabbers. So glad that you have a treasure-chest of memories of quiet and simplicity in 2012. It will be interesting to see what new challenges Spirit will reveal to you.

P. J. Grath said...

Dawn, I certainly wasn't chastising anyone for not reading that post! It just seemed strange to look down the list and see such variation in numbers, when the whole blog on the stillness project was pretty much a "nothing happening here" kind of thing. Similarly, though, I'm baffled by the difference in readership numbers for my Burger Shack stories. Why would some get so many more readers than others? In particular, one of them--and I'm not saying which one, because it's already had more than its share of attention--has had an inexplicable bump in the ratings recently. But just that one. Why? Why THAT one? Oh, my quiet children, you are just as precious to me as the ones getting noticed!

One spillover from the stillness project, Kathy, is that I'm not frantically casting about for another project. What will come, will come. In its own time.