Sometimes When Listening

photo by Todd Steitle on Unsplash

Sometimes I hear a Great Horned Owl outside my bedroom window.

Sometimes I go out the next morning to the bush that brushes up against the bedroom window to find a trace of the owl. There are no traces. It’s hard to imagine that an owl could perch on this scrawny shrub.

Sometimes I hear what I need to hear.

Like the dream at the wedding where he leans behind my husband’s back and whispers to me, “Open the door slowly.”

Sometimes I open everything too fast. My mouth, my wallet, my heart, the cellar door, the bedroom window when I hear my owl. My speed scares them.

Sometimes when I try to go more slowly, I get bored, shop for stuff I don’t need, see the tracks in the virgin winter snow. Fox or coyote? I follow the tracks, looking for scat. As I get deeper into the woods, I remember my nature friends who have moved from our woods to true wilderness.

They wait until there has been a sighting and then go out after midnight, into the woods to find a snowy owl. They rarely find it, but the fun is the dark. The promise. The possibility of the owl’s purr that you can only hear when you’re quiet and still.

Sometimes I still want a fast life. The unsurmountable strategic problem. The stages. The four and five-star hotels paid for by clients and event organizers. The wandering in unknown cities. The surprises, the beauty, the frustrations, and exasperations. The rush of not knowing what will happen with a new group of people. The anxiety around wondering whether the alchemy of the people and ideas will light. The inability to sleep because of the energy we created together. It happened so fast and now it’s over, except in my hyped-up mind.

Sometimes my mind slows me down, questions my talent, insists that I’m not ready or not meant to be seen.

Sometimes I think I should listen more to the owl than to my mind. The owl is quiet and consistent, elusive and strong, leaving no trace like the coyote or fox, except in our memories of its promise.

Sometimes the promise is enough to keep listening, to keep walking in the woods on a frigid night.

Sometimes the promise is to keep opening doors, even if we can’t figure out how to open them slowly.

Sometimes we will be surprised. It’s not the snowy owl or the coyote or fox or even him, handsome stranger from the wedding whispering to me.

It is not what we thought we wanted to hear. And it is magnificent.

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Lois Kelly

Lois Kelly

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Writer/artist, co-founder of “Rebels at Work.” Most happy in the wilder-ness of people, ideas and nature.