And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

I’ve been finding myself craving silence lately. During the day, when Michael is at work and Olivia is at school, I’m working out of my office at home and I’ve been keeping the house in silence. No television, no music, nothing. I even mute my phone. In the car, I usually hit the music as soon as I start the engine and I sing along with whatever CD I’m obsessed with at the moment. But right now, the CD player is off. I drive in silence. When I’m done teaching a class and everyone has gone on home, I dim the classroom’s lights and take a little longer than normal to straighten everything up, just so I can stay in the quiet for just a bit longer. In the morning, when I wake up, I’m not getting out of bed very quickly. Instead, I lay there and look out the window and listen to nothing, except maybe a cat’s purr. Then I step into the chaos that is the world right now.

I’m avoiding busy places, like the mall. When we go out to eat, I choose a quiet restaurant and we go late. I haven’t been back to the church I visited on Christmas Eve, because of its loudness. And often, involuntarily, I realize I have my hands up over my ears.

Years ago, when I still watched horror movies (the last one I saw, which did me in, was An American Werewolf In London), I watched the screen with my hands over my eyes and my fingers slitted, just a bit. Now, I check the morning news headlines on the internet the same way. I want to know what’s going on, but I don’t want to let it in. There’s a part of me that wants to declare a personal boycott on the news, but then there’s an underlying thrum of fear that if I’m not aware, then I won’t be prepared…but for what? Armageddon? The end of the world as we know it? The Zombie Apocalypse?

So I keep watching, through slitted fingers. And now, craving silence. My hands over my ears.

Our dog Ursula is an anxious dog. She’s a rescue who we adopted last March. In that time, she’s improved greatly, but we’ve had to work through her fears of the television, the microwave, the icemaker on the fridge, slamming doors, loud voices, the sound of the busses going by, the piano, the toaster, the Christmas tree, my teapot…you get the picture. She’s afraid of everything. Lately, Ursula’s place of comfort has been my daughter Olivia’s bathroom. It’s the only room in the condo that doesn’t get any natural light. It’s painted a soothing, quiet blue. There is a soft powder blue bath rug on the floor. The bathroom is in the center of the house, so while her world reels around her, Ursula sits in the dark on the soft blue rug. It’s quiet.

Yesterday, I went looking for her and that’s where I found her. I decided to join her for just a bit. I lowered the lid on the toilet seat and sat down. Ursula shifted, wedged herself between my legs, and we were still.

It was silent.

It was dark.

It was warm.

And so we sat.

After about five minutes, Ursula rested her big concrete head on my knee and she heaved a sigh that expanded her ribs like an umbrella and then she deflated. I sighed with her. I felt us both relax.

I have no idea how long we stayed there. But I do know when we walked out, we were both the better for it. I think Ursula is on to something.

Apparently, happiness – and peace – can be found in a dark silent bathroom. With a dog.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.       


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