I was standing on a tree stump with my hands in my pockets, backpack on, looking right at that empty swing and trying to decide if it would be more beautiful with a pretty girl on it. There were four of us in that backyard, four sleepy souls mollified by waning sunlight filtering through thick canopy, four sleepy souls sporting knowing masks, minds pregnant with “it”. We were the masters of time then. Time didn’t know us and we didn’t know it. We were knee-deep in that pool of serenity that reveals itself shrewdly and with measure. We were all of us together and all of us apart. I turned my eyes upward and the blue of my iris reflected the blue of that sky. Just beyond the chain-link fence there were chickens burying their beaks in the dead leaves. We meditated on them, agreeing they were archaic and reptilian. I said it was remarkable how they were propelled solely by instinct; by biological requisites. You asked how we were any different. I smiled. There was a small wooden shed with the white paint chipping. Weeds grew unencumbered, about a foot high. A small tabby cat pressed her abdomen against the dirt, compressing her body to slip out from under the shed. I knew she had a litter underneath. I quieted my breath and I closed my eyes, turning off to turn on. Right then it happened. I heard the leaves rustle as the wind bore down on us. I felt the hairs on my arm stand on end. I felt it pass right through me, felt it cool a burning core, calm me, whispering lullabies. I was attune to orchestral strings, standing there on that stump, showered in the tired orange from a sleeping sun. I nodded at the crickets signaling dusk’s ascent. I heard shrill bird calls, sweet in nature. I opened my eyes, cleansed. I saw insects buzzing humbly between tall stalks of grass. I saw the dust and pollen you can only see in that kind of faded light. I was stripped of it all: detached from attachment, devoid of ego, liberated from my doubts, from my fears, from panting hell-hounds running in those crevices and shadows. If I have ever lived, it was right then, humbled and full of grace, succumbing to a moment, no past, no future. I used to strain my ears, hoping to hear what the voice of truth would sound like. I used to squint, hoping for truth to materialize so I could point and say: Ah, that’s it! There it is! I’ve found I have since learned the reward of patience, since absorbed the wisdom of silent waiting. No longer will I have bleak, blue, sad eyes. No longer will I be defined by anything other than as I am. I reached my the little notebook in my back pocket and felt hot air from my nostrils brush my lips. I took a pen from my breast pocket and attempted to write the ineffable.
That sounds incredible. I haven't been yet... but my first stop will definitely be Florence. Did you happen to have a favorite city?
I hope you get the chance to soon. That’s a good question. I think most people would say Rome or Milan, and though I loved those cities, for me, the best part of Italy was the more rustic, rural areas. Asisi was this medieval town with cobble streets and stone walls surrounding the perimeter. Built up on a hill over-looking the countryside. So beautiful.
That's pretty awesome! Have you ever been to Italy?
Yep. Went the summer after my senior year of high school. Went to Rome, Venice, Verona, Asisi, Milan, and Florence. One of the best experiences of my life. Love Europe, Italy especially. Really want to go back. Have you been?