Just Listen

christina - dayton, Ohio
Entered on March 25, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50

this I believe

several nights ago, i laid in bed for a long time, listening to the rain. my son, ori, laid awake for a while, too. i think we were both just tired and groggy, too restless with our thoughts to sleep and too sleepy to confront, so we drifted, lulled by the percussion on our windows and roof, by the steady rhythm of water on the sidewalks and in the already substantial puddles spread about the property. ori perhaps might have been dreaming of waking to our own private moat in the morning, and fashioning plans for a drawbridge in his ever busy and inventive head.

yes, i love the rain. i love broiling toiling skies and air that moves on my skin and hair like water currents. on days like that, i can feel the earth spin and the milky way spin and the entire universe expand in a steady flow from the atom in a grain of sand to the unknown vacuum at the heart of a galactic black hole. it all feels connected. i’m just molecules and little bits of string, and isn’t that amazing.

but for a while that day, i wasn’t really enjoying the rain. coming off the winter cold, i was ready for spring. i wanted to be outside, frolicking in my yard, kicking balls, lighting fires, digging in the dirt, smelling earth and grass and warm light. i made veggie burgers inside that evening to compensate because they tasted like spring, like my backyard, fresh tomato and lettuce and onion sliced on black bean patties with mustard and bbq sauce. it was almost right, and friends visited to help us enjoy it, but i was still disgruntled about all the wet and gray skies.

then, later that night, as I lay first on the couch and then in bed, i just listened. i didn’t hear the hum or buzz of my house; the cats were silent; ori was breathing; and the rain just kept dancing with all its quarky, spread-out soul. for a while, it seemed like we laid in a vast pavilion, a concert hall, where the stars gathered in silent and the expansive stage never stopped moving and changing. it didn’t begin or end and it didn’t matter that my limited little brain couldn’t really comprehend that.

have you ever really tried to stop and understand time? eternity? unfathomable distance? have you ever really tried to imagine what it would be like to live forever, to have unending consciousness, to process and experience THAT much? to never just stop? my sentient self has been grappling with those wonderings since i was not much older than ori. i remember the first night i really jumped into that cognitive abyss. i was about seven, laying in my bed in a dark room, but the night was quiet. there was no rain, no one breathing next to me. there was just the house and its electronic, static monotony. i struggled for what must’ve been hours but perhaps was only minutes. finally, i cajoled myself to sleep by thinking that when i was all grown up, i would understand everything, so i didn’t need to worry about it right that moment. the thought didn’t entirely work, but it worked well enough, and i fell asleep drifting from a thought of my grandmother’s house to a thought of some grand fantastical world that existed only in my imagination.

so many years later, two decades, and i have to confess that i haven’t figured out much more than i did then. if anything, i have more questions, more doubts, and certainly more fears–but i have different kinds of consolation, too. i have my son. i have the rain. i have the feeling of that yawning expanse of uncertainty tingling and spreading and leaping from and through and into and out of my fingertips. i have the knowledge that no one really knows much better than i do, that we’re all sailing along in the same big planetary boat with very similar unanswered questions–even if some of us try to tell ourselves that we know the answers. i think that deep down, we all know that we don’t have the answers, but I also believe that that subversive, winking knowledge is not only the root of all our fear and doubt and insecurity but also the river in the veins of our ambition and drive and creativity. it makes us weak but it also makes us strong, because even as we evade and hide, we cling and learn and try new things. we hold onto the best in us and around us and reach for the promise–or at least we try, in our good moments, in the strong moments. in our weak moments, we rage and flail and lash out and lie and look suspiciously through the cut-out slits in our most armored masks.

this I believe: we are strange, petty, frightened, and certainly not entirely sane creatures, you and i. we both fear and crave what we don’t have or don’t understand. we love and yet revile what we do. a more dichotomous confused being surely never existed, and that is our achilles’ curse, because it is that bifurcation, that inherent perplexing conflict within ourselves that makes all things possible, that enables us all to create both heaven and hell in any little moment or corner of our lives and world.

all this the rain told me, and more. that night, not long ago, i rolled over, my blood pumping in the body drum, and saw that ori had finally drifted off. I watched his beautifully perfect face float in our own quilted niche of the ether, and i knew that curses and promises were little more than the same thing. i wondered what ori would make of it all, if he would lay awake so many nights as i had and continue to do, trying to understand the world within and without, trying to connect, reaching for human empathy and some larger sense of how everything interconnects and begins and ends and never really does either because when something stops, what happens next? and if something begins, what happened before? and how is nothing really possible because isn’t nothing something? how can something be nothing?

then i shook my head and laughed and felt a brief moment of loving pity for the boy who seemed to have so much of me in him already. i brushed his hair and kissed his face and felt a bit of moisture in my own eye as i told him to just listen to the rain.

this I believe: in the end, and in the beginning, we can only listen to and become the rain.