Quiet sneaks up on you in the most peculiar places. You know what I mean, right? That restless quiet that taps you on the shoulder in the grocery store as you toss an 89 cent box of linguine into your cart, or while you’re running a soapy hand down your child’s back in the bathtub, or slapping together another peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Sometimes Quiet skips right up to you and gives your shin a good kick while you’re sitting on your deck, sucking oysters out of the half shell. Sometimes it digs a nail into your bony spine while you scrape burnt eggs off the bottom of that non-stick fry pan you bought on QVC. Other times still, it gives you a whack across your face. There you are, stunned by the tears dribbling into that useless pan.
You make a fat fist, wipe the tears away, and shake that restless quiet off like a chill. Shake it off like a heavy coat. Shake it off like a dog shakes off snow, and begin mumbling about how much you never liked eggs anyway and swear that you’re going to write that letter to QVC, demanding a full refund. To work off your anger, you get to the task of scrubbing your toilets till they shine, but the quiet comes. The quiet always comes. This time you curse the toilet and fantasize about walking to your closet, and tossing your clothes, even that shirt you hate, into a big ‘ol box along with your boots and heels and clogs and slippers and sneakers, and hauling that box outside, chucking it in the trunk of your car, and driving away. Maybe you’ll go to Alaska and live inside an igloo. Or maybe you’ll head to the mountains, build yourself a one room hut, and fish with a stick and a fat piece of string. People with far less skill than you have done it. Why not? Fuck it.
Shake. Shake. Shake. You slam the toilet lid down, inhale a beefy breath, button your life back up like a white starched shirt and carry on. I know, because I was a pro-shaker. Had that move down. Every time that quiet came around and cramped my space, I shook till my teeth chattered and fell out in the palm of my hand. The night before my (first) wedding, I was twenty-three when Quiet wrapped itself around my heart and squeezed it so tight I had to check myself for a pulse. When the tears came, I shook it off…nothing but pre-marital jitters. Three years after the “I do’s” I was lying in my bed and felt that same squeeze. Only this time the scream that lodged itself in the back of my throat wouldn’t let me do anymore shaking. I had to go. I knew I had to go. But where? When? How?
Kind, loving and good-hearted people don’t walk out on kind, loving and good-hearted people. They just don’t. I was Italian. I was Catholic. I was good and kind and loving. The problem was, I couldn’t ignore the whirr of my own heart anymore, or how my skin felt too tight as if I’d outgrown it. It was time to shed, to stretch, to grow. It was time for me to walk into that quiet place; a place where my fear gripped me by the throat.
Change doesn’t have to be a boulder-sized life-altering move like handing your boss some melodramatic resignation letter, or pawning off your treasured jewels to fund your trip across the country to go live in that hut, or a divorce, like it was for me. It might be, but most of the time, it’s far simpler, like taking that course in Spanish, or sticking your hands in the dirt and planting that garden you’ve always wanted to, or buying yourself a frilled-skirt and signing up for Flamenco dancing, or taking that one risk and telling that one person that you love them; you’ve always loved them. Or starting a blog, like I did this time around when I had to step into that quiet scary place. Every time you read one of these posts, you’re bearing witness to one person who took a baby step inside her own fear. You can do it too.
Do you feel it? That urge. That knowing that something awaits you, calling out to you like an old friend. That self, eager and wanting to grow, to stretch, to bring more of it’s being into this world. Do you hear it? That whirring of your own heart? What desire are you swallowing back? What do you shake off when Quiet comes a knockin?’ What fear grips you by the throat?
I get the scary part. I do. I really do, but I can make this one promise…that one step forward is not half as scary as standing still. Take your box out of the trunk. Put your sneakers on. Tie ‘em up. Get a flashlight and take one step inside that dark scary place. Now take another step and another. Soon you’ll be clear across that bridge onto the other side meeting up with that old friend that’s been calling to you for a long, long time. Only this time, you listened. This time you called back.
Please leave a comment and share with us one tiny step you took into the dark scary place…that place where you shed your skin. We ALL need to hear from you!
Note: postings will go out on Mondays, unless I run out of things to say!