There are those moments, when in the midst of a day full of activity and happenings that you experience a moment of stillness. The world around you that was so busy with voices and ambient noise is for a moment, still and quiet. Or maybe I have been sitting at this keyboard for too many hours in the past week and time has been sneakily slipping past me. Going about it’s business — which is mostly passing and then occasionally stopping. I am always impressed by those people that are so in tune with the universal flow that they generally know what time of day it is, despite not referring to a watch.
I hardly ever know what time it is, except when looking at a watch or clock and occasionally at a phone. And then after seeing the arrangement of the hands on the watch face, I usually mutter ‘oh bugger’ and start to bustle about because I might be late for whatever appointment I had set for myself. The sudden bustle is often enough to alert the canine that potential movement is afoot and the #NinjaZenBearDog can be heard shaking himself off, trotting to the water bowl and generally buzzing with excitement that he too, might be off somewhere.
Into this burgeoning sphere of activity (and sounds) are the birds shrilling and chirping as they are disturbed by the Bear’s movements and growing excitement with each pass I make; trying to find the key, phone, watch, wallet, bag, water bottle, leash, or a myriad of other items that I have successfully misplaced since seeing the time about thirty seconds ago. Recently I’ve taken to looking frantically for my face mask — only to eventually come to my senses and check my face, where I have found said mask, securely and peacefully in place. The first time this happened, my nephew was around and very kindly did not collapse into spasms. At least he did not, while I was still around.
I’m not sure that I’d have taken too kindly to hysterical laughter at my perplexing absent mindedness in the past few weeks. As a habit, I follow the ‘everything in its place and a place for everything’ adage and it works a charm. Until I look at a clock and think I’m going to be late and then suddenly I’m holding the water bottle in my left hand while rummaging in the tupperware cupboard (you either know, or you don’t) with my right looking for said water bottle. Or keys or pretty much anything else that can be misplaced, left in plain sight on a table or fitted neatly into a bag.
Over the years, this madness for misplacing items and absent mindedness has been mostly masked by the excellence of the people I have worked and lived with. Kindly, humorously and sometimes even lovingly keeping a tab on my keys, bag, passport et cetera while I got caught up in a panic about potentially being late for whatever it was I had committed to. And I’ve worked at giving myself so much leeway in travel and incidentals time that I am less likely to consider myself late. Thus avoiding the absent mindedness that immediately arises from the panic that I might be late.
Over the past few rather eventful (if you count eventful by the sheer volume of human beings in the immediate family dropping dead or dying in other ways besides dropping) years I have also found that being the other ‘late’ is a dead certainty. It’s sobering as always to be reminded just how utterly fortunate we are to have this day to breathe, to live, to be.
The minutiae of daily life with its quirks and idiosyncrasies and the way we connect with each other despite these details that might for their absence, render us less likely to have laughed deeply with those closest to us. Or more likely, been laughed at by those closest to us. It matters not, because in the end, there was laughter and smiles and the sweetly salty tears that come from laughing your head off at your silly sibling, partner, mother, child or parent.
And after all the rushing, crashing crescendo of the belly laughs and head shaking at each other, you generally find one of those moments of stillness. Like the universe had quieted itself to all the better hear this deep, rich, tumbling-over-itself laughter. In that moment, you realise the keys are still happily in the ignition — where they always live — and it is suddenly so obviously crystal clear.
And in other moments of stillness, sitting alone at a table that held the laughter of so many of the family — many of whom are now properly ‘late’ as they say in the village — I sometimes hear your laughter deep in my heart and the tears taste just a little less sweet and just a little more salty.