Stillness

rowboat

I am a workaholic; my first job was selling the Newark Evening News in front of the Ampere train station in East Orange, New Jersey. I was a 9-year-old at the time. I lied about my age; the News would not hire anyone under ten, but I was big for my age, so I began working early. At the age of eleven, I was given the opportunity to have a paper route. The News gave me twenty-five customers; I quickly sought others and within six months, I had a paper route of 125 daily and 75 Sunday papers. When I doubled what the News gave me, I won a bicycle; my first one. I have worked ever since.

Presently, my wife and I are on a three-week vacation in Alaska and Western Canada. At first, I was very apprehensive, which was very quickly followed by a feeling of extreme unrest, perhaps even boredom. We are now in our stateroom on the Noordam in Ketchikan, Alaska harbor; it is raining. The rain should clear within the hour, so we will venture into the town shortly.

Watching the small boats go by our window, coupled with the slow movement of the tidal waters, I am, for the first time, settled into a period of stillness and quiet. For one of the first times in my life, I am truly settled and comfortable with the fact that I will basically do nothing except enjoy the day with my wife.

We would spend weekends in Virginia Beach, watching and listening to the ocean tides crashing to the shoreline, which is relaxing, but I always knew that when I returned home, I would have papers to grade. Earlier, when we would vacation on Cape Cod with our children, I enjoyed the week, but my mind was always on my business back in Summit New Jersey. Was everything going smoothly; was my manager able to handle any difficulties; questions, such as these, would haunt my serenity, or, lack of serenity.

With this three-week vacation, I am forced to truly let down to a true stillness. During this cruise, we have spent two days just cruising from place to place. Fortunately, the seas have been calm, and being able to sit on our veranda, read, write, and relax has been a true catharsis.

This causes me to reflect on why we all need to get away from our everyday jobs to truly relax, to enjoy a week, a weekend, a day, or even an hour or two, when we can find the stillness within us, to clarify our minds, to process confusing emotions, to reflect on our experiences, and to give artistic expression to why we are living.

Give this a try. It has taken me 74 years to get to this understanding as to why we need to leave our stress behind, find our place of stillness, and regenerate our inner selves. I pray that others will discover this sooner.

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