When the House is Still

young woman opening curtains in a bedroomSeveral times a year, the children are with their other parent for several days in a row, and the house gets quiet.

Radiators pulse and pop, and birds sing outside our closed windows. Today, snow is expected, a few inches, even, on opening day for baseball. Spring is slow to come in Michigan.

It always is, really. We get glimpses of warmth in mid-winter and think we are somewhere else. We become lulled by a sweet day into thinking that all days are sweet in the upper Midwest.

But no.

We live in a place that burrows into itself all the winter long, not releasing the cold until quite late, not letting spring take over until it is nearly summer.

That is where we live. We have become a culture of complaining about what is real and what is not. This is where we live. It is no different.

A wise man knows to assess the nature of the situation and create realistic expectations. To be disappointed because you expect something other than what is to be expected is just stupid.

I wonder where we would all be without the ease of Facebook walls, the place where we can dally in boredom, and shout or snipe in quick quips, without thought as to whether this is the energy we want to dwell in.

There was life before the digital age. It was a time of a little more thought, a time of human interaction.

Time for a coffee break vintage editing styleNow, we sit behind screens and create stories in our heads. We fear interactions, forgetting that without human contact, we are dead.

What makes us human?

The very act of interacting with another.

The cognitive connections, the intellectual thought patterns, the speeches and soliloquies we offer beyond ourselves.

We are human because we think before we speak.

Human. It is a state of being intellectually superior than all walks of life.

And so what do we do with that?

Do we realize the gift of our existence?

Do we honor this gift?

The definition of the animal is one who feeds his desires without thought. One who exists to survive, whose every move is a conscious choice between life and death.

Sometimes that includes fighting to the bone, edging out another creature.

African Forest Elephant, Loxodonta africana cyclotis, of Congo Basin. At the Dzanga saline (a forest clearing) Central African Republic, Sangha-Mbaere, Dzanga SanghaAnd sometimes that means loping through the forest in the late afternoon sunshine, feeling it sink into your skin, and resting against the thick and reassuring trunk of a very tall tree after your journey is complete.

Humans today dwell in their animalistic survival tendencies far more than in their intellectual sanctuary. We have forgone the peaceful run through nature and sun-basking but we choose the fight, the edging out, the competition.

Things have turned upside down.

In the silence of my home over these days, I can finally hear the whispers of the world.

I realize what matters. I take time to breathe and to ponder.

I notice the poetry of existence. Its inherent gift.

after the rainBecause I am not making lunches or waking sleeping angels, I see the pinks and oranges of the sunrise out my front windows. I walk barefoot to the recycling bin and see the tracks of raccoons in my night.

As I leave the car and make my way to the house, I notice the scent of the grass and trees and the rain pelting down feels like a shower of renewal.

It takes getting quiet and noticing your surroundings to be fully present. And in this presence, it becomes a renewal of spirit, as we make the choice to elevate our existence beyond our sacral urges.

Do you choose to be human each day? And if so, what are you doing with that choice?

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