"...stone among the stones, he returned in the joy of his heart to the truth of the motionless worlds." - Albert Camus, from A Happy Death
Motionless in my backyard I heard him before I saw him. His clawed feet scratched down the trunk of the Willow Oak (left).
We eyed each other like dueling men.
The voice of a squirrel sounds like a cross between a dove's cluck and a dog's bark. He clucked.
I tried to mimic him. He clucked again.
We began a conversation. I must have said something wrong because after five exchanges he growled and turned tail. Perhaps he knew that I hunted his ancestors in the Ohio woods of my childhood.
I never knew squirrels could growl. Then again, I've never spoken with one.
The most startling thing about sitting motionless in nature is what chooses to appear.
Two hummingbirds fell into a swirl of purple flowers. A pair of gold finches mated in mid-air, flying against each other in the morning sun.
I never see these kinds of encounters when I'm in a hurry.
So many caregivers work not in hospitals but at home. In the middle of the night these caregivers sit silent beside the beds of stricken loved ones. What truths arrive in their motionless quiet?
In a movie theater recently I watched a powerful little girl named Hush Puppy work her magic in a searing film called "Beasts of the Southern Wild." Near the opening, she holds a bird to her face and listens, as if checking a heartbeat or listening to the animal's voice. "We're all animals," she says.
The more distance we put between ourselves and animals or between ourselves and the trees the more our arrogance will blind us to the truth.
Steven Dunn writes in his poem "Meaninglessness" about someone who had "learned, but forgotten,/ the pointlessness of seeking;/ he was, after all, alive,/ and desire often sent him aching/ toward some same mistake."
When I'm seeking, I never seem to find what matters.
Motionless, I fall, if briefly, into the quiet lap that rests behind the heart. It is in these moments when the truth of the world arrives.