Full disclosure: I’ve read admittedly very little Robert Frost. Me and my friend Greg, who really sort of made me want to write, among other influences, and who I now coincidentally share a bathroom with, use to have to read Frost for our AP English class senior year in high school. And we hated the man’s poetry so much we still joke about it to this day. But somehow Frost made it into the canon of admired American poets of the past. Really, there is no other category of admired American poets other than “of the past.” I think comedian Ron White had a Facebook post once about how “On this day March 17, 2012, the last person bought book of poetry.” Something like that.
And yet when I walked on the path leading into the woods behind the Humane Society, Robert Frost immediately came to mind. I don’t know if this path was here the first time I worked here because you could still smoke on the grounds and me and the other smokers gathered around a picnic table at the back of the building. Well, you can’t do that anymore. The entire campus is “Smoke-Free”.
It was really kind of a fluke that I found the woods at all. I just went out to my car to grab my smokes and saw the sign that read “No dog-walkers beyond this point”. So as I built a resentment against the imaginary zealot volunteer dog-walkers that were probably responsible for the campus being “Smoke-Free”, I strolled down the path into a heavily wooded area and was simply stunned by it.
This little path that lead away from the campus turned into nothing but a thick forest with a lovely path meandering through it and by the time I had been walking for 5 minutes, I couldn’t even see the point at which the path ended and emptied out onto the parking lot from which I had started this little trek. It was amazing to me that so close to my workplace was this haven of nature complete with birds fluttering among the canopy and creaking trees that had fallen in the storms only to be halted by other trees still standing.
Now, this certainly wasn’t the road “less traveled by” as there was empty 40-ounce Bud Lite bottles and what looked to be deflated balloons that weren’t really deflated balloons because I know what they really were but was sure as hell not going to bend over to find out. But the little clearing I found off the path was really quite lovely, if you could get past the discarded tires and dirt assembled into a bike jump. And I certainly got past it quickly. I sat down on one of the bike-jump mounds and just marveled at this tiny pocket of natural beauty. But it was really the sounds of the place. I closed my eyes and I was far enough away from cars parking and dogs barking that I was able to hear the birds taking off and landing as their friends chirped encouragement, the wind rustling the leaves, the groan of the fallen trees.
I found this serene place on my first day back. It seemed as if the universe had gifted it to me as my own little sanctuary. I had sat on the mound and I silently declared it was my “Lunchtime Serenity Spot” to the birds (they didn’t seem to mind). Between working two jobs and volunteering, along with what passes for a personal life, I have very little time to devote to grounded, silent meditation in solitude. So I’ve come to cherish small moments such as this one when I’m allotted 10 minutes or so throughout my days to grab little mini-meditations. Just a snapshot in my life where I am able to circle my wagons and develop a strategy for next 12 hours.
I finished smoking, rose and stretched, once again lamenting the fact that Americans never embraced the tradition in Spain of eating lunch, then sacking out for a couple hours before returning to work in the mid-afternoon. I walked back to the parking lot and reality. And I am so grateful that I found my Lunchtime Serenity Spot. I imagine I will be visiting it often.