I enjoy being mindful. I don’t purposefully meditate or do yoga, although I am sure I should, but I do enjoy being mindful of the things around me when I have a moment to pause.
I try to spend time sitting and listening. I do what I have come to call layered listening when I want to calm myself and reflect on my good fortune.
For my whole life I’ve made a habit of listening during joyful moments. At family parties I’ll often sneak off and listen to the different sounds of people I love talking and laughing. I revel in the sound of the children running and calling to each other, the television playing the constant rerun of the “Iron Giant” for our nephews, or the cheers as my sons watch a sports game or some movie that gets their heart rates racing. I like to cook, and usually provide intricate meals that originate from one or another of the countries I’ve visited. I’ve come to appreciate the sound of my now grown sous chefs hitting the bowls with utensils as they help with the prep, and the sound of dishes being jostled into place.
When I am outside I listen to layers of sounds and try to hear a car passing on a distant road, and a bird chirping in a very close tree. As I move to narrow down the locations of sounds, I try to get to the very basic things I hear like my breathing, the dog’s sighs, and the pump of my own chair as the wooden slats of the rockers hit the concrete porch.
As time passes there are important sounds I don’t hear anymore. I no longer hear the sound of coffee hitting the little glass bubble in my mom’s old coffee percolator. My sister or I plugged the coffee pot in on Sunday mornings before my mom came down the stairs. Mom would set the pot up Saturday night and whoever got up first plugged it in to start. The house would fill with that wonderful smell of fresh coffee brewing. I miss the sound of the growl in the belly of the old silver pot and the sight of the light brown liquid appearing in the bubble at the top of the lid. The liquid would eventually grow darker and that wonderful aroma of coffee would wake my mom to a new day. If we were very lucky she’d go on to make biscuits and sausage gravy that we, in turn, would top with canned tomatoes to lend a touch of acid to the sweet, flaky, creamy mass of southern born deliciousness on our plates.
I miss the sound of the train whistle my dad used to make when he was in a really good mood, and the squeaking sound the metal steps at the front door of our camping trailer would make when someone came bounding out to join the campfire. This morning I am the only one awake and I’m listening to the waterfall of our pool and the air conditioner running. There’s a bird chirping outside, the dogs are softly snoring again after waking me up much sooner than I’d like, and I can hear the slight pounding sound of the keys on my computer keyboard as I type.
I saw an old movie recently. The movie first aired in the 1980s and in one scene a man let his date into a car. As he walked around the back of the car to get into his own side, she instinctively rolled to her left and reached across with her right arm. She stretched her hand to unlock his car door, and afterwards repositioned herself into her seat. I heard the *click* the silver button made as she pulled it up to unlock his side. It was her thank you to him for unlocking her door and letting her in first. I hadn’t heard that click in a long time. That sound made me think of my own teenage “dates”, when I was nervous and anxious at being in the company of someone I liked. I felt the slight tingle I’d felt as a teen girl and I paused at the thought of my innocence during those earliest experiences as a young woman.
I like sounds, and smells and just quieting myself and listening. They carry me back to my memories and give those memories depth and richness. I’m going to listen more than I talk today. While I’m listening I’ll remember that today’s sounds are connected to those yesterday sounds in my memories. They are the “click” of the car door, and the sound of the coffee hitting the glass bubble of the silver peculator, and the laughter of the mornings before this one that have faded but still echo around me. Of the truths I know, the one I am coming to appreciate more and more is that the days pass slowly but the years fly by.
I want to hear the sounds of the moments I have stored in my memory. They are the sounds I carry that provide the voice of my roots. My roots are what have kept me grounded, and built me into who I am.