I remember distinct stages in my life when time stood still.
The first stage was early childhood living in no measured world except by sunrise and sunset. Hours may have passed while I was deeply engaged in play and exploration, present to the moment only.
During this quietude of mind I was a keen observer of plants, animals, and people and their curious behavior and their lives. I studied my parents, how they spoke to each other and to me and my siblings. I noticed when they spoke to neighbors or strangers—the subtle changes, deference made.
School days ended the quiet world I lived as a young child. I learned about clocks, schedules, thinking about the past and planning for the future. One classroom club I joined was the Busy Bees. I must have signed up for a lifetime membership because the next thirty years I lived the life of a bee in a hive of fellow bees. The continuous hum and bustle of bee life was joy and motivation. There was much to get done and I wanted to learn everything I could about being a bee.
Then something happened that called me away. Deep was that call that drew me to an open field and big sky above. There were sounds: trickling brooks, the cry of a hawk, rustling in the tall grass. The warm sun caressed my hair and skin welcoming me back. Voices spoke within me. I was reminded who I was born to be. I was not a bee, they said. I was bound to be a butterfly.
That was the second period of quietude.
Life sweeps us along in its currents and soon I was bobbing over stones and around isles, racing in torrents and languishing in still pools but always going somewhere without cessation. Then I met an Indian woman who taught me to stop…wait…consider. She had me sew little bags of rose petals by hand and to chant the Rosary. I lit candles, painted golden boxes, stayed quiet in my dark, cool trailer in the roasting desert near Yuma, Arizona. She read from the Upanishads and Sufi teachers, Iroquois saints, and the Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Time had no meaning; the sun rose and the sun set but made no egress or exit through the blanket-shrouded windows of her home. I unwound my glistening wings and fluttered a while.
That was the third period of quietude.
Life then became a walk, sure-footed and true. I chose to be here or there. I wrote about my experiences and read about those of my fellow beings, leafy, furry, scaled, feathered, four-legged and two-legged. Quietude came and went in those days but stayed finally when I turned fifty.
This was the fourth period of quietude.
Quietude took residence in me.