Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Sitting Pretty

"My room for sitting and thinking about nothing in particular to see what would happen was at the end of a hall." - Carl Sandburg

“The truth knocks on the door and you say, 'Go away, I'm looking for the truth,' and so it goes away. Puzzling." -Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

* * * * *

After a busy day of recording math lessons for my socially distant students, I sat down to upload them to YouTube. Eight videos, some fairly long at 30 or 40 minutes, others as short as ten, would take about an hour of my attention to be properly uploaded where my students could get their hands on them. Rather than drift around the house doing this and that while trying to keep this task in the forefront of my mind and failing, if the past was any predictor of the future, I decided to stack the odds in my favor with one simple act.

I sat down.

"I will not budge from this place," I told myself once settled on the living room couch, "until my uploading task is done."

Click, click. Tap. 

And so it began.

Within moments, Gracie woke from wherever she'd been sleeping and shuffled in to join me. I scooted back to the far corner of the couch and gave her plenty of room to stretch out. And also the pillow.

Once she got herself all comfy, I angled my legs up alongside her for my own maximum comfort, and breathed a sigh of contentment.

Gracie must have sensed my human legs nearby, and without so much as a twitch, shifted her furry back legs so they were resting up on top of mine in a most agreeable and cozy manner.

We both sighed. 

I flipped open an e-book and found my place in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which I'm learning is a fictional autobiography - ?! - with equal parts Upper Plains travelogue and metaphysical ponderings. It's a weird book but I'm enjoying it immensely.

I read for about a half an hour. Every now and then, I'd toggle back to YouTube to see how my upload of the moment was progressing. As soon as I'd discovered that one video was safely landed on my channel, I'd start the next.

Click, click. Tap.

Sunshine streamed through my living room window, warming the air in a deliciously relaxing way. From the next room, I heard my husband on a Zoom call for work. The other callers' voices were muted so I heard nothing from their end but every so often I caught an indistinct rumbling as he contributed to the conversation.

My daughters were up in their rooms, silent. 

The cats, wherever they were, were apparently content to be there.  Probably out sleeping under some fresh spring leaves in the garden.

Gracie snoozed on.

My eyes felt heavy. My head nodded once or twice.

I checked my phone - still uploading - then shifted, still under Gracie's furry feet, so that I could lean back against the arm of the sofa and close my eyes in comfort. The images of the motorcycle trip through the Montana landscape drifted through my mind as I let myself relax into the moment. 

Should I sleep? 

Well. My goal was to tend the uploads but on the other hand, I'd promised myself that I wouldn't get up till they were done. I never said how long that process should take.

Yes, I decided. A nap would be fine.

As it turned out, I wasn't ready to fall asleep after all. But I stayed there, perfectly happy on the couch in a quiet house with my faithful dog at my side, thinking about life and mindfulness and road trips and the beauty of every single moment, as my videos continued to upload.

And when they were done, I got up.

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