I Hang Upside Down

J3127053So what do people say when you ask what makes them feel safe? I asked that question here Tuesday and the answers were great:

A person named Joan spoke of walking briskly by the seawall on a foggy morning and hearing the foghorn. Also the sound of rain beating on the windows at night. Times like these she says she feels “safe and at one with nature.”

She wrote this the second time she posted a comment about that post.

The first time she spoke of morning coffee and gazing at the flowers in the garden window. That and brushing her dog Angel, and “that ridiculous fluff of a tail.” (I love that last part.)

Another person named Michael called up the memory of seeing Isaac Asimov being interviewed long ago on The Tonight Show. To Carson’s question about his personal vision of the future, Asimov replied: “I see the immediate future, the short term, as very dark indeed. But long term, I think the future of humanity is glorious. Unimaginably glorious. Provided we can survive the next century or so.” Consequently, Michael goes on,  he now feels he doesn’t have to contend with the same uncertainty that the madness around us stirs up. ‘It’s not that I don’t feel fear or sadness or anger, just that I don’t have that underlying ‘what the Hell is happening?’ anxiety to compound it.” What a gift to have such faith! (You can see more of Michael’ s comment on this page.)

And a  third person named Morgan, writing her reply in an email to me, spoke about the second go-round of a course on Mindfulness that she is taking. She said that for her the absence of anxiety was enough to make her feel safe.

I sure get that. When I first wake up in the morning anxiety floods all through my body, I think because I began forming a habit of overwork the summer I was 14  I have still not been entirely able to put down,  even all these years later.

But lately I have begun the practice of lying on my back with my head hanging off the edge of my bed, as per my chiropractor’s orders. In this wonderful batlike pose I can look out the window at what the rising sun is doing to the trees across the street. I can see the clouds. I can watch the planes coming in to  land at Logan Airport eight miles to the east. And best of all, I can see the birds.

These birds rise and swoop, rise and swoop and they lift anxiety from me every time I see them do it. ‘It’s a new day,’ I tell myself then, ‘and I’m waking in a world whose sun rose with no help from me at all.’

Then I begin to feel calm. Calm and safe too, in a world not of my making.

I often wish I had a dog with a big fluffy tail like the sweet drooly Golden we had as children but until I can get one, or walk again along a beach, or hear rain on a roof, while I await that unimaginably glorious future Mr. Asimov saw so clearly, this will have been enough. This will have been more than enough.

morning sun in spring


If there’s one weekend in the year when you can exhale it’s got to be this one with summer about to begin, yet the days still getting longer. There’s an amnesty feeling almost, as if Time has forgotten its chief task of hurrying us all along toward the exits.

Even here on the internet things are quieter than a closed library. Winter weekend, rainy weekends it’s practically standing room only online, but today? With temperatures heading for the mid-80s it’ll be a ghost-town here, not counting the faint peeping sound Tweets and status updates coming in through people’s phones.

I couldn’t sleep last night. At 3:00 I was wandering from room to room, reluctant to take a sleep aid because I knew the birds would be up talking within the hour. They do that in my part of the time zone: they get up before 4:00. With their happy racket and full daylight by 5:00 I wouldn’t want to be drugged-out and unable to wake when the day began.

I work every single day to bring this little gift to you though there’s no money in it. And, like millions of others , I buy food and cook it, I work a job and I spend time with our small people, I take our remaining old person out to break the terrible loneliness of the old. I can never sleep late is what I am saying; I feel all that waiting for me and I hate to admit that I’m often anxious.

So at 3am today I was dragging my anxiousness with me into the living room, the hallway, the kitchen. There I suddenly heard the solemn tones of the wind chimes I had just hung outside the porch door the day before. They are made of iron and extend five feet down from tip to end and now a stiff steady breeze had called forth their deep belling sounds.

I listened and listened, standing in the kitchen. Finally I returned to the bedroom and opened the windows wider to hear them still . And didn’t they carry me into three hours of deep refreshing sleep, as they will perhaps do every night now until that far-distant day when the cold returns and the snow begins again to fall.

~These are not my chimes but they are like mine and will give you the idea. Send not to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.~