Each night, before going to bed, I take my dog, Louis, outside. And each night, before going back inside, he stops, turns to face the street, and sits on the front walkway. He started doing this years ago, no matter the season.
Since we are connected by a four-foot leash, I stop too. Sometimes, I’ll bend over and rub his back. Other times, I’ll pick up all twelve pounds of him and scratch his neck and ears. But most nights I just stand next to him.
While he surveys things closer to the ground, I look up at the stars. When it is clear, the night sky is in its full glory. We usually stay like this for a few minutes. It is as if we are paying our respects to the day we have experienced together. As if we are honoring this brief point in time when our lives have intersected.
It can be a challenge for me to sit still. I like to be busy, daresay productive. My daily meditation on the night sky with Louis is sometimes the only unoccupied moment of my day. It is also when I am the most lucid. I occasionally have brief moments of insight. A connection with the infinite world of nature that is just outside my door. On the rare occasion, I feel as if I am grazing the face of eternity.
I think about how this constant awareness and connectedness is the natural state of a dog. Our pets seem to possess a cosmic silence. Perhaps this is the source of the unspoken bond we have with them.
The Seventeenth Century French mathematician, Blaise Pascal, wrote in his influential theological treatise, Pensées, “All of humanity’s problems stem from one’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
For me, silence is often the place poems come from. The place where my fragmented thoughts have room to layer and synthesize into verse. Vacuuming and lawn mowing is also fertile ground for poetic ideas, as is any back and forth motion when the mind is calm.
Poetry is the energy beneath our busyness. It is the essence of life. The ordinary miracles we may miss while going about our day. Poetry is the feelings that well up inside of us, and it is also the language we cobble together to fully understand and describe these feelings.
The noise of the day, however, can make it difficult to do this. Sometimes, the only way to connect with these thoughts and feelings is to sit.
In a room.
I challenge us to do it.