I sit in the quiet of the afternoon. I can hear someone practicing the piano a few apartments away. Hands striking the same few stanzas over and over. Fingers and muscles memorizing the movements that make the desired sounds. Ears tuning themselves to the slightest variations of tone. I enjoy it. I enjoy listening to someone trying over and over and over to get it right. And, so much is electronic these days that the authentic, organic sounds of the piano keys hitting the strings is pleasing, no matter what is being played.
There is also the sound of a large truck's engine grumbling away on the street. Who knows why the engine must continue to run for such a long period of time. There is construction only a block away. Every once in a while I hear the brakes let up and release in a loud puff of air, but the truck doesn't seem to move or leave. Because I'm focused on the piano notes, the truck sounds fade into the background.
There are sirens blaring nearby. I live in a neighborhood where there is a fire house a half block away and two hospitals within two blocks of me. Sirens are a regular part of life. I bless them when I hear them going off to help someone. Who are they saving today? Who are the angels who drive the ambulances and tend to the those who need help? I was rushed to the hospital once by such angels. I don't remember their faces, but I remember their hearts. They were kind and efficient and so reassuring. My asthma had gotten the best of me and I could barely breathe much less talk, but I struggled to thank them over and over. I wanted them to know how grateful I was that they were there for me. I hoped my eyes could tell them what my voice couldn't.
My cat, Sophie, is asleep on the bed in the next room. Her quiet presence always there with me. She's an extremely independent soul, who enjoys being alone most of the time, which is more of a reflection of myself than I care to admit. Every once in a while, she comes to me, slinking silently by, rubbing my legs very gently, usually because she's hungry. I bend to pet her as she passes and then dutifully get up to fetch her the food she's wanting. She might then gift me with a visitation for a while, although more often, having gotten what she wanted, goes back to her nest on the bed. She is my only remaining cat. It's just the two of us now. And, I'm grateful for her every day.
The piano player has changed his tune and another sequence of notes is repeatedly being attempted. This time the effort is better rewarded and there is more continuous melody before it stops and starts again. I admire the person's perseverance. I can tell it's not a child, but an adult who plays. Someone learning to play later in life. Such learning is more difficult, but more rewarding. I remember trying to learn to play the piano when I was a child and having no appreciation for it whatsoever. I had no patience with the process and, after much complaining, my mother gave up on me and stopped the piano lessons. I was happy about it at the time, but wish I'd continued as I look back. How lovely it would be to have the ability to play the piano at this point in time, which is why I so admire the one who practices a few apartments away from me. They are working toward a desire they've probably carried for a long time.
The sounds of hammering from the construction site have filtered their way into the mix my ears are enjoying. I can hear lumber being placed. And then, not the quick jolting pops that a nail gun makes, but the rhythmic sounds of a hammer being wielded by someone's hand. It starts and stops, then helps a board into place, then secures it to its position with more nail pounding. I wonder if those working on the construction project appreciate their progress on a daily basis. There would be satisfaction in creating a building where people could live and work in comfort and safety.
Some days I'm more focused on things less immediately near me. I might be more caught up in the past or in planning for the future or in thinking of all the things I'd like to get done. But today is a slow, quiet day of being present in a way that I'm not always capable. A day of noticing and appreciating the Life all around me. A day when the Life around me feeds me instead of annoying me. A day of gratitude for small and basic things. A day when fear and concern have slipped away, all on their own. The blessing of a day of peace and grace. And, one of my constant, go-to prayers repeats within me the way the notes of the piano repeat...thank you, thank you, thank you.