2 hours of clarity

I received the huge gift of driving 2.5 hours home from Indianapolis with Veda last weekend. I sang her lullabies and supplied some goldfish and graham crackers, and within a half hour she was asleep, leaving me with 2 whole hours of silence to think and wander in my thoughts. Bliss, I tell you. (Perk of mamahood: The little things are much bigger blessings when you have a baby!)

The morning was dreary gray... desaturated and dull. And the Indiana landscape was flat and expansive. Lots of tiny farms far in the distance. Short stalks of brittle corn left in the fields. Little patches of snow mounded up randomly.

And this normally would have depressed me. (I deal with S.A.D... have I mentioned that before?) Two weeks ago when we drove through this same landscape I cried silently from the passenger seat. But this drive was different -- or maybe I was different. This time I noticed how the gray allowed a stillness and a peace that I must have missed before. It wasn't loud. It didn't want you go outside and run around and carry on. It wanted you to just sit and notice. It wanted you to pay attention to the quiet that was right under the surface. It had a gift, even though it was subtle and even-tempered.

How had I missed this for so long? I have no idea. But I am happy that I noticed it for those two short hours.

Anyway. This stillness and quiet, outside the car and in, gave me time to let my thoughts settle. And I felt all the parts and pieces of all the big questions and dilemmas I'm currently facing fall to the bottom of my mind. Like the pulp in a glass of apple juice gradually settling.*

And I had clarity. And more importantly: I knew I had clarity. And in those two hours, I answered a lot of my own questions. I came to decisions about things I've been struggling with for quite some time. And I felt at peace with how I see the next couple of years unfolding.

I couldn't help but smile there in the driver's seat.

Right toward the end, close to home, Veda woke up. She had a big smile on her face and little wrinkles and a red spot from resting her head on her blanket. We just drove along eating graham crackers and singing Itsy Bitsy Spider. Nothing had changed. But everything had.

*Thich Naht Hahn's parable about apple juice from this book is something that's stuck with me for a long time. I think of it often.