We search for happiness everywhere, but we are like Tolstoy’s fabled beggar who spent his life sitting on a pot of gold, under him the whole time. Your treasure–your perfection–is within you already. But to claim it, you must leave the commotion of the mind and abandon the desires of the ego and enter into the silence of the heart.
~ Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love
The walk home from the hospital on Tuesday nights always reminds me of Athens, OH: My College Town. The side streets, loud bars, and one particular 4-way intersection, which I always hope to be abandoned so I can create my own diagonal crosswalk, all bring along a welcomed sense of nostalgia. It’s the little things in life, kids. Believe it or not, I used to be one of those college kids in the loud bars (on my beloved Court Street) on Tuesday nights enjoying 25-cent wings, 2-dollar mixed drinks in plastic cups, and a priceless buffet of OU-loving friends. But that was a long time ago…well, five years ago.
I look forward to that walk so much, even going as far as to turn down rides home in order to have those 20 minutes to myself. No cell phone. No email. No to-do list. No stress. Just me, my city, and my nostalgic mind on a romantic walk home after a soulful night of baby therapy. What more can a girl ask for?
Surrounded by a city of millions and thousands more tourists, silence is a rarity in Chicago. However, I’m learning that it’s not impossible. Although silence in terms of noise- or lack thereof- is what many first think of, it is silence of the heart that this girl and many others find themselves looking for something- whether or not we actually know what that something is.
A mere stranger once said to me, “I hope you find what you’re looking for.” At twenty-years old, I didn’t know how to take those words. What did he see in me? What did he think I was looking for? How did he know before I even made this realization?
During these last seven years, I never stopped to hear the silence. Too caught up in finding something else, I overlooked what I already had. Believing that I had to be better, grow up quicker, and become somebody else, I lost sight of myself…except when I walked the streets of Athens. Usually with Brandon or other friends at times, the streets provided me serenity as I was able to leave the commotion of my restless mind and abandon the desires of my dreamer ways. I miss those walks. I miss those run-down streets. I miss Brandon and his perfect companionship. I miss Athens a lot. I miss it even more on Tuesday nights when my nostalgic mind kicks in as I turn onto Fullerton.
I cannot tell you the last time I spent a Tuesday night in a bar, and in a few weeks I’ll be back in Athens for the first time since June. And while I miss those days dearly, I’m okay with it now. Because for 20 minutes each week, after I finish my volunteer shift, I can count on my heart to fall silent and clarity to fill my mind. I can take a deep breath and know that everything is fine.