Suspended Tranquility

Madeline - Chico, California
Entered on September 29, 2008

I Believe in Tranquility

My tranquility floats, suspended between two natural gods, cradling the shadows of their outstretched arms, dipping slightly but never gracing the earth. It does not have a tall golden spire or dome projecting from its crown. It does not have hundred year old frescos or stained glass, nor did it take the hands of the country’s most gifted craftsman to complete its production. It is simple and divine; it is cotton and rainbow dye. It is my hammock, my temple, my tranquility.

Tranquility is the most elusive element in my life. Though I am a lover of quiet hours and simple moments, I was raised to be constantly industrious. Serenity and reflection were reserved for two week vacations to the ocean or mountains. Despite my calculated relocation from the suit and tie culture of Philadelphia to the flip-flop one of northern California, I cannot quit this addiction to perpetual activity.

So when I return home at the end of a scattered, multi-tasking day, I do not sit down. I begin a new list, calculating the amount of time it will take me to: fold the laundry, call the auto mechanic, prepare a meal, and complete the work to be done in preparation for the following day. When will I get to sleep? How many hours of sleep do I really need? The thoughts spin out of control and my forehead resembles the silk skirt I still need to iron. My irritability heightens; I push my affection-seeking canine aside and rush outdoors.

There, patiently waiting is my opportunity. (Life gives us many of these opportunities; the ones where we either stay the same or pick a different pattern of behavior.) I slowly approach the serene hammock, pull down the center of the dip, and drop backwards. Instantly, I am no longer a part of the grounded world. Half cocooned in solid blanket, I cannot see my house, except for a triangular sliver of the roof pointing to the endless blue above. Swinging gently, my gaze wanders between pine needles and pecan branches, white sycamores and drifting wisps. I am released, separated from my worries. My anxious thoughts run over my skin and plunge to the dirt and stone below.

In this state, I am compelled to look upward, into the eyes of a powerful force unconcerned with my dirty dishes or career choices. In this state, hovering between earth and sky, I remember who I am, what I love, how to laugh, how to give up, and how to find strength. In my hammock, I am no longer separate from the world; I am no longer so important. I give up my arrogance and lie humbled. In my hammock, I learn to embrace tranquility.