Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence"

For a long time, I sit with them in the snow. We watch the boughs grow heavy as the silence piles up around us.

There is no silence like a steady snowfall.

I watch the dogs celebrate, prancing through powder, snow collecting on their backs. They shake it off, unfazed.

Jack comes to me, his one eye a blue glint in the white. He shifts his weight, stretching into a downward dog before rising and sniffing at the snow beneath his feet.

Yeti prances over, staring at me, his big brown eyes intense, inquisitive. So much going on inside that head.

Soon Ruffian follows.

And Big Brown.

Slowly, they present themselves to me. Big Brown touches a cold nose to my cold nose. She smells like cold, like wet earth. She nuzzles me.

The dogs defrag me when I am fragmented, keep me sane. After spending the entire day with rowdy, hormonal 6th and 7th graders, this snow and the dogs - and the tranquil silence that accompanies them - is a welcome relief.

For years, I had Max Ehrmann's Desiderata above my desk when I worked in hospitals. Of all the noisy, hasty places, a hospital has to be, by far, one of the more urgent.

But I found myself going back to the opening line of this great piece today, as I walked the boisterous and explicitly loud halls of an urban middle school.

"Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence."

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