As the mother of two small children, one of whom is an early riser (which, since they share a room, means that the other is – albeit involuntarily - also an early riser), it is somewhat rare that I ever have a morning that could be considered “still.” I usually hit the ground running, sometimes more literally than others, depending on whether the sounds coming from the bedroom down the hall are merely the usual sibling squabbles or whether there are clunks and thuds indicative of dangerous furniture climbing or heavy projectile throwing. But every now and then, my husband and I manage to exhaust them both enough that they sleep later than we do, and we have a morning – or at least, part of a morning – which is, in fact, still. This morning was one of those mornings.
It was an interesting morning to be still, since it’s quietly snowing, adding yet another layer of stillness to the stillness inside our house. And since it’s the first full day of spring, the stillness also includes a bit of a lull in the birdsong that has been growing in both volume and variety over the past few weeks. The snow creates its own stillness over the usual morning noises of neighbors getting up and heading out for the day, or traffic passing on the nearby road, of the routine noises of everyday life as it goes on all around us.
Even after the kids woke up and we began our morning, there was a wonderful subdued stillness around us. I often spend breakfast reminding the kids to sit back down and eat, answering their endless questions about whatever pops into their heads, catching up on urgent emails, and planning out the business of my day. But today, the kids were content to sit quietly and eat their breakfasts (and in one case, half of my breakfast as well), and I gave myself permission to delay the day’s work and sit at the kitchen table, watching the birds and enjoying the stillness.
Our usual avian visitors include large flocks of house sparrows, a pair of mourning doves, a trio of blue jays, a pair of cardinals, and a handful of junkos. The sparrows, jays, and cardinals are all quite shy and nervous, but the cheery junkos and gentle doves allow me to approach them very closely. They have a stillness of their own. The junkos and sparrows often eat at the same time, and when a movement inside the house startles the sparrows to flee in a frantic whoosh of wingbeats, the junkos merely glance around, often looking right at me and cocking their heads as if to say, “Do YOU know what their problem is?” There is a calmness and a stillness to their behavior that makes me feel calm and still as well. They are fearless and trusting, not assuming that any movement means danger, not wasting energy on fleeing unnecessarily.
I could learn a lesson from their stillness: Don’t borrow trouble. Don’t assume the worst. Deal with problems as they come but don’t waste energy on something that isn’t actually a problem. Look around and question the behavior of others before you consider imitating it. Enjoy what’s in front of you. Be still