Tuesday, November 13, 2012

On chewing one's food

Picture a girl. She's gotten out of bed at a reasonable hour, taken care of the animals, and seen her husband off to work. The day is before her. But first: breakfast.

Though she doesn't look anything like what I'm about to say, just picture her for the metaphor, if you don't mind. The girl is messy, her socks and pajamas twisted and her shirt on inside out. Her eyes are pretty, but with gray shadows underneath. Alone often, the eyes are distant, inward, but not lost. If they land on you, they immediately know you. Her hair is red. Much deeper than mine, and pulled back with little wisps falling around her face. She smiles to herself in one moment and frowns in the next. She raises every shade on every window and puts on Christmas music a month too early. The bright autumn sun and blue sky spill into the house. Along with the music and her ups and downs and her beautiful mess, the place is a living poem.

But she runs through poems like she runs through the night--from something she doesn't know toward something she knows even less, on an unseen treadmill built by a deep longing for the answer to the question, What do I do in this world?

Sausage, eggs, and waffles cooking; butter, salt, and syrup on the table; plate warming in the oven; music coming through the speakers; sun and blue sky tumbling in; dog snoring on his bed...music playing, sky tumbling, syrup waiting, butter melting, eggs cooking, sausage frying, waffles toasting, dog snoring--then it hits her:

Stop. Don't let this go. This is everything.

In the fearful excitement that comes with revelation, she carefully folds her napkin and rests her fork as prettily and perfectly in its center as possible. With a deliberately relaxed pace, she fills the plate that's almost too hot to hold. Her computer remains closed where it sits instead of acting her usual companion. The phone is neglected somewhere out of sight. Looking out at the sun and the blue, the girl sits, breathes, then forces herself to chew slowly. The music washes over her, its notes separating in the air and dancing in front of her before forming one song again. The spices gather into groups on her plate before scattering again in one burst. The leaves on the ground outside her window float back into the places they held all summer before floating down again in a rain of spinning autumn yellow to the frosty ground below.

This moment, the world whispers, is what you do in this world.


"Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough." ~ Emily Dickinson