Across the country in present time USA, the “noise” is so loud. People are angry and growing restless with their respective lot in life, and the sirens of discontent are incessant and knocking on doors, screaming through windows. Even here Downeast, if you scan the Internet, read the letters to editors, attend debates or listen to breakfast chatter, our societal fabric is being stretched to the limits. A breaking point has appeared, and a nation divided sits and watches as the kettle begins to boil.
I do not have any immediate solutions for the current political climate in this country. Really, in all honesty, who does? But what I am able to do is close my doors and windows, figuratively of course, here at our home in Maine. My wife and I found this small slice of heaven back when President Reagan and Speaker Tip O’Neil were on opposite sides of the aisle yet still speaking to each other and working together. This place became our respite from the “world” beginning as two and three-week vacations, to now being our home Downeast.
When we close our doors and windows, the television is turned off and all those devices that inform are dialed down or switched off, and the days are filled with simple pleasures. The constant barrage of “who said this, and who said that,” is turned off. We do more, we talk more and we listen to each other a lot more as we move through the day. It’s our Sunday drive for the soul as we take a break from the pervasive noise that can overwhelm and distract even the sturdiest of souls, and the Downeasters I have come to know here are very sturdy people.
But these same sturdy people also come with different life situations just like many across our country. Some people are more fortunate than others, and still many struggle day after day to make ends meet. For some, to close off the noise is not an easy task, and in many instances impossible. This uneasy feeling many are having is tough, and one about which I am not accustomed to writing; nor is it an easy topic of which to write. Being a person from “away,” I have written much about the beauty of this place and its people. I write about what I see and more importantly what I feel. We all struggle with something, and when the outside world appears to be worse off than we are, we must take a little time for ourselves, close off the noise and look within to find something good within the chaos.
Living where we do gives us a chance every day to experience a quiet so perfect its stillness brings a rapid calm to a personal landscape, both inside and outside the home. The noise stops, and we are given the chance to really see our neighbors, our friends and the place we live; to feel grateful for the opportunity to make decisions, no matter if we consider them good or bad in hindsight.
There is no right or wrong person, no right or wrong vote. There is only what we each believe is right, in that nanosecond of time between when we breathe first and when we breathe last, and the respect we have for each other in between that time. When a decision is made or a vote cast, we should leave and walk together out the door. The choice made is a choice we will live with, even if everything in between is but a second of the totality of a life lived. It is never the perfect choice, because there is no perfect, except in the effort we give to be the best person we can be while also treating others as we would be treated. And if we live by this credo of goodness, fairness and choice, it will then be reflected in our decisions and how we choose to live.
So when times seem uncertain, close the doors and the windows and see what really matters. We again will see the real us in the mirror. We will see a rapture of sea, sky, nature and life, all there waiting to be held in place by a smile and a hug. And we will be reminded that, given all the uncertainty and chaos now, the past, too, saw its fair share and still persevered. Doing so because people came together and made this place where we live today, made the community we now call home, and made each other happier by working together and being together, and, when finished, enjoyed the grandeur of a day together.
When I turn off the noise, I am given a gift of a quiet so perfect it is deafening. A quiet of blue skies, orange mornings, boats on the water; gulls in flight, fog seeping in behind the tide, the song of wave washed stones; the life-saving light and horn on the water, the blush of the blueberry barrens, the song of crow, sparrow and trees — glorious trees; and a night sky peppered with dreams that bring a certainty that it is all here, today, along with our family, friends, neighbors and community, all of it. And will, again, be here tomorrow.