Saturday, January 2, 2010

Silent Night

"All is calm ... all is bright ..."
John Freeman Young

DAY 85:  A night of clarity ... but not quite sure how to describe it.  Let me try ...

Tonight, I organized a dinner for the Math teachers (present and recent past) at my school and their spouses.  It was in celebration of the New Year, a not-quite-back-to-school dinner, and with my birthday tomorrow and my friend Margie's birthday on Monday, a double birthday party, as well.  We had 20 PEOPLE eating family-style around a huge table at Maggiano's and it was quite a feast ... the food was wonderful, but the company was even better.  I've written about them before, but these are the kind, generous, thoughtful, supportive, and loving people who make going to work each day pretty damn special.

After a HUGE meal (with my tab graciously picked up by my friend, Chris), I decided I needed to take a walk ... partially because I needed to walk off some of the food and I guess, in part, because I just wanted to TAKE A WALK.  My first stop was in Barnes and Noble ... there's nothing quite like a bookstore for me - I'm not sure what it is.  It's just a very calming experience.  I notice quite a few guys browsing by themselves, like me ... sometimes I catch their eyes and I ALMOST think I see a glimmer of unspoken understanding.  Again I'm not sure what that understanding is, but it's reassuring. 

It's interesting that this apparently stream-of-consciousness post began with idea of "clarity," and I've now said that I'm not sure how to describe a feeling a number of times. 

Let me go on ...

I bought a couple of books and headed out into the crisp, clear night air.  Town Center is an outdoor mall ... it is essentially one long "street" lined with stores.  At 9:30 at night, the only open doors are the restaurants.  For the next half hour, I VERY leisurely walked the length of the mall and back in surprisingly blissful silence. As I walked, my mind was unusually clear ... I can't recall any EXACT thoughts other than the word "syzygy," which popped into my mind, seemingly out of nowhere.  This is the first "spelling word" spoken in the musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee that I'll be directing next summer.  It means the alignment of three heavenly bodies ... like the earth, moon, and sun during an eclipse.  Why did this word go through my head?  Maybe it was just something about the night that felt "lined up," that things were "right," that life, with its occasional disappointments and difficulties, is just fine ... headed in the right direction ... on course.

I walked down the street of the mall ... not a sound, no customers, with only the quietest hint of some piped-in "mall music" from the central square way back by the restaurant.  Maybe it was playing the entire length of the street, but I really didn't seem to notice.  I walked with my eyes straight forward instead of cast down at my feet.  The 40-degree temperature didn't bother me - in fact, it was rather refreshing. 

I guess I thought about my birthday tomorrow and how my life was absolutely something to be thankful for and how, at this moment, though I was completely alone in silence as I walked, I did not feel alone.  I thought about how this winter break, which is normally marked by holiday depression, had been remarkably happy with SO much time spent at parties, lunches, dinners, and movies with an incredible group of friends that I all too often take for granted.  I thought about this birthday, my 49th, and how I don't really feel 49 ... despite the "curmudgeonly" reputation I frequently carry.  I thought that my New Year's resolution about FINALLY treating myself with kindness and respect was making itself CLEARLY felt and realized, even in only the second day of the New Year.

I'm not sure if any of this makes a lick of sense, or if there's anything specific I'm grateful for, but it was a night of quiet contemplation, clarity, hope, and satisfaction. 

And waiting for me at home was the wagging tail of the most loving companion of all.

Does this make ANY sense at all?  Hope so ...


  1. Crystal clear. What a wonderful birthday present to give yourself.

    ...and many more, my friend!

  2. Make sense?? Absolutely! As you know, the end of the lyric is "sleep in heavenly peace" ... I believe you are beginning to find some of that blissful peace amidst your syzygy. A few months ago you weren't ready to find your peace, listen to the silence, or be thankful/grateful, much less write it all down in this wonderful OGJ for the whole world to see. Yet, you found the strength to continue on ... and now you are here. I predict that 2010 is going to be a great year! Thanks for all you bring to my life, my friend. I love you. Happy Birthday!