I didn’t venture far from the apartment. Roads and sidewalks are icy, so you look for sure-footing on crunchy snow where dogs defectate. I took the kids to the nearby playground at St. Alphonsus Church. It’s a destination we frequent all year round. To walk familiar routes over and over again may seem monotonous, but there is always the chance to find novelty if you are attuned to it. Xavier de Maistre journeyed around his room feeling that staying put was far more convenient than the hassles of travel. As Alain de Botton said his The Art of Travel, “The sole cause of a man's unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.”
The kids enjoy walking in frozen tire ruts and seeing the water move underneath. Their masterful ability to be present is what we lose as adults. Adults search, spend money, attend retreats, become addictive and clingy in order to experience fleeting presence.
I am in my head a lot these days. I seek action to avoid silence, opinions to comfort uncertainty. Yet these are delusional tactics to avoid my 48-year old self. To find nothing in the silence is terrifying to me. Is there a difference between “nothing” and “nothingness?” The former may be about a deficit, the latter about abundance.