Trying to be present

Cervantes is pawing at the front screen, trying to get outside into the golden air that is this afternoon. I was just out there myself, so I’m taking a break in my shady living room. I get it though, the desire to be out among the sounds and sights and textures that is Outdoors. Cervantes, though, is an Indoor cat. Luckily I am not an Indoor person.

I went out today in search of a beautiful space to be, and I wasn’t sure if I’d find it in the midday haze that covered Austin. I also wasn’t sure if I’d find it along with the collection of people my friend and I intended to Meet-Up with. My knee, however had its own agenda for the afternoon when I started down the Greenbelt trail, independent of my plans, still decidedly angry from a long Saturday of soccer and cumbia. It very firmly insisted that we cease walking after a mile and find someplace lovely to sit. Knowing that I’d pushed her too far already this weekend, I finally listened, kicking off my flipflops and wading gingerly out to the middle of the creek where the sounds of rushing water at last drowned out those of rushing cars on MoPac.

I lowered myself down to a conveniently chaise-esque ledge, felt the cool spring water hit my back and splash up over my aching joint. Adjusting my sunglasses and plunging my wrists into the nearest eddies, I settled into my seat

and watched the water run over my hands,

and felt the sun slide in and out of clouds,

and listened to the noise of the creek,

and ran my toes over the rocks,

and forgot about the busy trail,

and sat. Watching this.

2013-05-12 13.22.24

In the bustle of school and work and the endless series of increasingly “important” deadlines that come in waves throughout the semester, I forget to stop sometimes and be present in my own damn life. Because I’m a contrary sort of person, I tend to need solitude to find that presence. I’m not talking about the alone-ness of sitting in front of a computer screen writing a paper, or the concentration of puzzling through a tough reading. I need the solitude that comes from being present in a place, really present enough to notice the particularity of where you are, and the desire to just there.

Sitting in the creek with the (mostly) clear water rushing by, there was nowhere else I wanted to be on this spring afternoon.

Sure, as soon as I got back on the trail full of dogs and bikers and runners and families, trudging along in flip flops with an angry knee, I could think of other places to be. I thought about how much I missed the beach, and the salt-dried summer afternoons of my adolescence, how shuffling through the hot sand up the 72nd street boardwalk to my best friend’s back yard was a much better way to walk in flip-flops than on the rocky Greenbelt path.

But I need some presence in my life, some real things that you can’t talk around, blow out of proportion or try to convince people of their importance. When people disappear from your life without a trace, family is far away, and old friends are racing through life’s milestones on the opposite coast, I need to be reminded that there is something here. Now. Where I am.

If what’s here is a creek bubbling with cool water on a sunny afternoon, I’ll take it.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

And for your reading pleasure, a healthy dose of non-sequiters

  • I sometimes talk to the cat. He listens.  We also sometimes leave the front door and assorted windows open, when the weather is as nice as it is today. As two houses share mailboxes that are posted next to the door, the neighbor and mailman have likely observed this phenomenon. I think they think I’m the crazy cat lady. Maybe they’re right. 
  • There are sooooo many dogs in Austin. I wonder if they know each other.
  • A good breakfast really makes the day better. So does a properly poured latte.
  • I listened to a story today that made me cry. It’s been along time since words have moved me like that. 

That is all.


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