Friday, February 18, 2011

Silence is Golden

Everyday, or almost everyday, around 5ish I receive a telephone call from Peter. Thanks to caller ID, I know who is on the other end, so I generally start my conversation with a robust "Hi Peter" which is followed by silence. Thinking he did not hear my very enthusiastic greeting I repeat myself and add "are you there?" Of course, he is there and I quickly visualize that smile, that crunched up, eyes closed, lips upturned expression that has taken over not only his face, but his whole being. It is as if he is in Nirvana.
Now, I, not being accustomed to silence have this overwhelming need to fill the airways with my voice. I actually become a bit uncomfortable with these long pauses of empty airwaves. There is this need in me to have those filled, I just cannot stop myself. So while Peter is just soaking in the connection he has just made and is quite happy, I begin the chatter. 'Peter, what is new?"...nothing.."Peter, what did you do today?....idunknow...."Peter, did you have supper" "Peter, what did you eat for supper" Peter, what is everyone else doing?" "Peter"....I think you get the picture. My quickly fired off questions with the intent to spark a conversation is only answered in one maybe two syllable words which you may take your pick and are "idunknow, yes, no, or nothing". Of course, does that stop me from pursuing my need to have answers, my need to know. Nope! Of course, not! Why, I am the master of open ended question or so I think, so I start the dialogue again.
Why Peter, you know what you did at work today, I give hints, and yes I do finally with much coaxing get an answer which I already know will consist of Pledge, gloves or triggers. I also know that any further inquiry will only start the idunknow cycle again, so I move onto a dinner conversation or what are you doing tonight.
So this ten minute conversation to me evokes this feeling of work, of effort, of pulling the words or thoughts from Peter's brain to his tongue so that I can feel we have accomplished some sort of task or meaningful conversation.
Recently, the thought crossed my mind, and why it has taken me so long, so many conversations, so many years to understand this concept, I do not know as I really think I am an intuitive type person. My realization is that Peter, is absolutely fine with silence. Peter is just happy to be sitting on the phone with me. He does not need words to connect, he already made the connection at "Hi Peter". Why he is still scrunching and smiling, and wringing his hands, because he is just so happy to be. I on the other hand have this need to fill the space, that quiet.
Based on my new found realization, I have now resolved that when I pick up that phone, I will leave space, silent, no talking space. I will sit and take in the silence. Now, this is a monumental task for someone who has a need, a need to fill the quiet, a need to speak. But I am trying, fidgeting, feeling quite uncomfortable, but working really hard on the nonverbal part. is precious, the unspoken. The feeling of just being, enjoying the moment, the sounds and feelings that one absorbs during those unspoken moments. It is golden, and I do believe Peter has just reminded me of something very valuable. The peace, the lessons, the love that fills the silence.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Little Piles

Peter is not just extremely efficient with loading the dishwasher. Oh no! He has his eye on my little piles the minute he walks in the door. Now, I am the queen of little piles which in my mind are all stacked neatly across, around, and on top of my island in the kitchen. This is where I sort the bills, in one little pile, and the coupons, in another, and the magazines and catalogs, and pictures, and recipes, and charity obligations, and my to do list, get the idea. It is all there, waiting to be addressed. And I know, it will be addressed someday, maybe, when needed. So, my little piles sit, waiting for someone to a least appear interested in their well-being. And to be honest, those who do get addressed, whose well-being is meaningful to me are the bills, the ones with the deadlines, the ones that charge an enormous, no that would be obnoxious late fee, now those little piles feel the touch of my hand on a fairly regular basis. The rest, well, those coupons when addressed are usually expired and the catalogs, well by summer those winter items are not quite as interesting. But, I love my little piles, and in this disorganized organization I firmly believe that I have control over my life and I will someday conquer them and have a purely clean and exquisite island.
Now, Peter, seeing these piles believes that when I am not looking it is his responsibility to fulfill my dream of a spotless counter top. However, he would never discuss this matter with me, no, it is his secret. So, Peter, in his normal Peter like behavior, carries on as if those little piles have no meaning to him at all. He never looks at them in my presence. Why, there are more important things to do, like the dishes or the laundry so why deal with little piles. He appears to not even notice these piles, until, of course, SHE leaves the rooms. Now, SHE, aka ME, occasionally has a need for a shower, so I leave. Now, did you know that I have the one and a half minute shower down to perfection. There is no wasting time on my part, just lather, rinse, and run. Run downstairs as fast as I can to ward off any well-meaning cleaning event that Peter will participate in while my presence in missing.
It is during that tiny time frame of my car wash shower that Peter seizes the moment. Peter, who was totally absorbed into You Tube or a song, is now into his role, his Mr. Clean, Mr. I gotta clean that island before she returns, swiftly, without a sound takes those little piles, the ones that have sat there undisturbed for weeks, and with a quick "Whosh", he eliminates them from sight and returns to You Tube as if nothing has occurred. I, on the other hand, running into the kitchen and still a bit drippy and not quite dry, notice I can now see the counter top which belongs to my island. Not only is it empty, but it sparkles. Mr. Clean always includes a free wash in his cleaning cycle.
Panic spreads throughout my body, where have they gone those precious little piles that laid undisturbed for weeks. I begin my search into the various drawers, garbage bins, recycle containers to find the lost articles. Retrieving some, and reconciling the lost of the others.
And so, the process will begin again soon, I will forget Peter's love to remove, his love of a spotless island, and I will again begin to build the piles. Will I learn, no, there must be something in this challenge that keeps giving. Maybe it is the opportunity to see the top of the counter, maybe it is my way of cleaning the counter? I do know that their will be piles and there will be elimination and somehow, through some miracle all the bills will get paid and those coupons...oh well!