Promises in the Dark

I wanted to try my hand at a different writing tack. My typical writing time for a blog post is between 7am and 11am. When I was gainfully employed, my writing time was typically between 5am and 7am. So, I guess I can be considered a “daytime writer” with those habits. Tonight, I decided to try something different. Right now, its almost 21:45 (9:45pm for you non-military types). I have most of the lights in the dinning area (my office area since there is not enough room here for me to have my own hiding place with a door). Outside the window in the back door, all I can see is pitch black. However, there is so much that I can hear.

Thanks to a handful of days of rain, the frog population here has made itself known, especially at night. Right now, there’s a chorus of frogs punctuating the night. They will bring things to a close somewhere around midnight. Sometimes its earlier, sometimes later. Between their calls, I can hear crickets in the night as well. This is a nightly sound that I usually filter out of my thoughts, but not tonight. I don’t have headphones on, and the television is (thankfully) off. As I type, my mechanical keyboard beats a loud staccato while using the crickets and frogs for an underlying layer of sound.

Now its closer to 10pm, and I hear a north-bound train as it rolls through the eleven crossings in town. That shrill single blast from the horn as it approaches is crossing is so distinct. I know its northbound because the sound is not as loud as the trains headed southbound. The decibel level is not very loud at all. In fact, if the television were on, even at a low volume, I wouldn’t not even realize that the train was coming through. Two more northbound trains will make their way through town over the course of the early morning hours, as well as two southbound trains. In my periods of insomnia, I have spent quite a few hours listening to the train sounds and glancing over at the clock. Yes, Virginia, the trains run on a tightly wound schedule.

Most of my Druidry tends to take place during daylight hours, simply because that’s when I am usually out and about. But even then, I usually have headphones on listening to music, as I am this morning. At this moment, I have Jimi Hendrix Experience’s “I Don’t Live Today” coming through the headphones. However, with the headphones off, I can hear the sounds outside. Hammers banging, along with the sounds of electrical equipment, remind me that the house at this end of the street is still being finished. It also reminds me that several houses will be going up just beyond the backyard fence over this coming Summer and Fall. Occasionally, I can hear cars whooshing by on the road just past the fence, the road that will be the connecting point for the driveways of this coming homes. I can hear the 8am southbound train coming through the town, carrying whatever goods that it has for consumers at the distant end of that travel. I can smell the aroma of my just made coffee; the hazelnut flavoring is a strong and comforting aroma for me. Some mornings bring the sounds of a helicopter flying nearby. That sound always makes me sad. It’s the sound of a helicopter bringing a critical patient to the small, local hospital here. I always stop when I hear that sound and say a quiet prayer for whoever is being brought in.

I put the headphones back on, and my iTunes player greets my return with Manfred Mann’s Earth Band’s album “Watch”. Sensory information. A part of my Druidry that I have taken for granted. The sounds outside. The smells that I come across. The tactile feel of the keys of my mechanical keyboard as I type. The music that makes up the soundtrack of my day.

I have taken a lot of sensory aspects that I encounter every day for granted, particularly during the COVID pandemic. My decision to start this blog post at night made me realize that. I stopped focusing on small things inside – the television, my computer screen, and even my headphones – and found that connection with the world that I don’t explore often enough. Last night was an epiphany, of sorts. Reconnecting with the sensory aspect of my Druidry is a poignant reminder that the past year was about searching through my beliefs, scouring my Druidry – for what essentially has been nothing. Or maybe not nothing. However, I spent a lot of time spinning my wheels – stuck in the mud of my Druidry, hyper-focused in a direction that I did not necessarily need to. Now, a year later, I realize that being driven indoors by COVID removed me from something I loved and enjoyed – just being. A lack of personal contact with other Pagans was part of the stimulus that I was missing. There was the fire crackling late at night at the gatherings that I attended. There was the quiet, hushed talk around the fire with others, as we talked about life, while trying not to wake those who had gone to bed. All the zany antics that we would pull on one another in camp. The quiet walks through nearby paths in the wooded areas nearby. All of that is an essential aspect of my being alive.

Was the hiding indoors during COVID appropriate? Maybe. Maybe not. I did that out of an abundance of caution. With a compromised immune system, catching COVID was just not an option. I did what I felt that I had to do. Right or wrong doesn’t matter. I did what I needed to do. Now, its time to get things restarted. Time to be the Pagan and Druid I have always been. Sure, there will be people that disagree with the way I deal with things. There will always be people who do that. I just need to do what I do and stop worrying about doing things in a manner that pleases others. I just need to be the same weird, caring, odd individual that I have always been. Because that’s me.

And just think – all that started with me taking a few moments to just listen to the sounds of the night. What else can be accomplished by just taking the time to reset and restart? Here’s a hint: anything I set my mind towards accomplishing.

–Tommy

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