A while ago my wife realized that COVID had put a kibosh on our infrequent Happy Hour excursions in the neighborhood. Even if it was once a month, it was a break in our retired routine and gave us a moment to look from the outside in. And when the establishment was quiet, we could discuss less mundane things besides who would be taking the dog to the vet (joke).
It gave us a chance to “visit,” maybe explore long-range plans or solve the world’s problems. Too bad we didn’t know about COVID then – we could have come up with a solution – really! She suggested that there was no reason why we couldn’t have our happy hour home or by ourselves somewhere outside. We only had to commit to stop doing all our “important” things about 5:30, grab a beer or a glass of wine, and sit down somewhere – living room, dining room, or porch. Better yet, we could brown-bag the bottle and go to our favorite park bench overlooking Lake Michigan. Alternatively, with camp chairs in the back of the car, we could go anywhere. And we could bring along our beagle – all sorts of new smells and spots to explore.
The same rules applied – sit back, relax, and breathe. You don’t have to say anything to have a conversation. Sometimes pointing at the branches waving in the sun was enough. And soon we went from once a week to almost every day. It became a de-stressor big time. This doing nothing became doing everything. It was our time – we snatched it from the claws of “You have to…” by simply saying, “No, we don’t.”
During the summer, we often opted for our front porch, 6 x 8 feet, with a rail around and a gate under a peaked V-roof. Our house is set back maybe 20 feet from the street and we’d wave as our neighbors walked by with their dog or on their own constitutional. Good waves make good neighbors.
We face south and in the evening the setting sun sends rays horizontally along the street which runs east-west. The light is usually golden and highlights the trees and houses. And if there’s a breeze, you might note how many leaves have a different color on their underside. Take a moment to feel the sun’s warmth (at least in July and August since this is Wisconsin).
Once when my wife went inside to check on supper, I turned and let the sun fall on my face. I closed my eyes and listened, slowly becoming aware of all the birds. And as I became more aware of their chirping, my heart opened. I felt that this moment was indeed wonderful!
I thought I’d share this simple idea – to stop, to look, and to listen. Find a moment to let nature do open-heart surgery. You needn’t have a brown bag. A cup of herbal tea works just as well. And if there’s no park nearby, stop with your back against a building and let the sun fall on your face. Let your ears and eyes relax and your heart open. You deserve it. Best yet, find your own path to quiet in the middle of chaos. It’s worth the effort and I’m sure you’ll get there.
Ken was a Professor of Mathematics, a ceramicist, a welder, and an IBMer until downsized in 2000. He taught yoga until COVID-19 decided otherwise. He continues writing, living with his wife and beagle in Shorewood, Wisconsin. He enjoys chamber music and mysteries. He’s a homebrewer and runs whitewater rivers. Ken is a writer and his literary works can be found at https://www.kmkbooks.com/
He welcomes feedback on his articles and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.