Something inside is missing. I recognized it this evening, when for a brief time I embraced some precious solitude to feel the warm air under the stars. Looking out into the darkened yard, I felt around for it like an old man searching his pockets for a squashed pack of smokes, who realizes that there’s none to be found. Instead of cigarettes, I searched for evidence of my lonely ache.
But it had vanished, leaving only a trace memory of existence. Like remembering a time when you were really hurt, but no longer feel the pain as you recall the experience.
Maybe since adolescence that ache has been with me like the steady, ever present beating of my heart. It keeps a rhythm that marks the passing of months and years, a chronic condition of living. We all share this loneliness to a certain degree,
At times the presence of this loneliness has enlarged and risen to a chest squeezing, hollow stomach, homesick yearning for something nameless and formless, perpetually out of reach. If only I knew what was missing, I would go in search of it to end the ache. Who could I call? What would I say? I am missing someone or something, some ideal? Have I missed some calling that would fill in the hole, if only I would be brave enough to simply do what inspires me most?
So instead of running and dancing around in the dark, barefoot in the grass under stars– celebrating the absence of loss, infused with giddiness to be unexpectedly liberated from the lonely shadow,
What would it do to my writing?
Isn’t lonely the reason I write? Isn’t it the absence of companion and that quiet solitary feeling that propels me into this alternate form of expression? These days it seems I’m talking so much to people that there might not be any need to reach for the pen and give a thoughtful response to the day’s events.
But as I felt around the pockets for my packet of lonely, I hit upon the shape of another memory: an occasion to reflect, a moment I wanted to capture as if I were taking a photograph. It was a mental still shot from the day’s earlier walk, an image that brought calm and peace and quiet to my head; significant enough to make me want to mark it down for later; a scrap of afternoon to use in a poem.
If anyone were to ever ask me to name one metaphor for peace, I can now say that peace is the wake line behind geese swimming in acute angles; the strands of traveling light on the surface that follow their random curiosity.
Migration is happening here now, and the lake is full of these back and forth streams of light behind the graceful swimmers. If you can find your way to a shore near sunset when the lake gets luminous, your day has magic. Your day has awe. Your afternoon has brought you to the awareness that your life in this moment is completely effortless. You can just stand there and breathe and observe. There you’ll find the space to release the effort and striving of the day’s need-meeting and want-satisfying.
Everyone should have a pond.
And a sunset and geese.
And friends like mine.