It's like what people tell me about their injured backs: it's not that five-state-drive, the slabs moved to make the patio, the ill-timed Michael Jackson doing "Thriller" imitation that takes you to your personal frontier, but that innocent morning a few days later when you reach up in the cupboard for your favorite mug and pain grabs you like a bouncer saying, "You're outa here, buddy, now!" Here: that continuum you rode without incident for so long, that sleek elevator of okay, sure, I can do that too, why not?
Chilled for no reason, trembling like my dog in a thunder storm, my right eye pulsing like a "vacancy" sign for the kind of hotel I'd be scared to go in, I carry my heavy head out to the yard to consider the afternoon ahead.
The dog and I stare at the river's edge and sigh in unison. Sometimes she knows just what to do. She has found an old bone and grunts at it like it's a mouse; it's a game she has taught me. She moves it around, chews it, then tosses it aside. As she leans her head against my leg, my heart could burst.
The sky unfurls like a flag. Blue banners, gauze-white strips. Then some coils of smaller clouds in little piles like pencil shavings.
I wish the clouds inside my pulsing head made me think of pencils. Maybe then I could work.
If I could bring this feeling of outside in--April at noon, the dog and me, the wild grass that smells like onion, the river, the clouds, her head against me, my full heart--I would push words around and around for hours in bliss.
Deadlines--external, real, and internal, just as pressing--can't quite out bench-press the pressure in my head today. But for this moment, nothing matters. All that I need is this river bank, the dog's sweet face, the way she rolls now on her back and offers me her white belly, the fur growing back where the cardiologist shaved her to take a picture of her heart--and that dirty, chewed up old beef marrow bone that once glistened with fat and sinew and flesh.
We are an accumulation of these moments, the dog and I.
This stillness steadies me.
Gentle reader, even as our lives rush along like this river that has its own deadlines, an appointment around every bend, we still can make moments that last and last and last.
Even as those clouds keep changing, Rorschach tests that tell us who we are and what we think we need:
Do they look like foam from the kind of caffeinated drink that might make us move fast again?
Or do they look more like goose down, feathers of that soft pillow calling us back inside for an hour of delicious rest?