You know the kinds of stories that don’t really have a point–they’re just stories to pass the time? Well, I tell a lot of those and this is one of them. So I’m telling you now, just like I tell people in real life: I won’t be offended if you just walk away while I’m still talking. If you have better things to do on this crazy internet thing, go right ahead. Just know that you’re welcome to stay and listen. This is just me, Jo, talking.
First off, an observation. Cafeterias are only good for eating with friends. Not so much eating alone. Because when eating with friends, you can talk (or listen, in my case), and contribute to the chaotic noise level. When you’re eating supper solo, you might get annoyed by the cacophony that is the cafeteria at peak meal times. It’s better to eat with the robins.
What you do is (and what I mean is, what I did tonight was) take your supper back behind your dorm and tiptoe out along the retaining wall that’s back there, and just watch the sun get lower and lower behind the pine trees. And there’ll be robins and euphony waiting for you.
So I just sat back there and thought about things and wondered about other things and had a content old time back there by myself. I crossed my legs applesauce-style and pretended I was a homeless prophet eating what I could on my road to the next town.
Friends, I’m kind of weird. I’m sorry if this is the first time you’re realizing this.
I watched the streetlamps come on across the street at Henderson, and suddenly, my home-town felt sweet and happy, and the George Bailey mood of frustration that had hung over me all the last week lifted, a little. See, it’s easy for me to think that I need to figure everything out about my future and my responsibilities and all that right now and if I’m not careful, everything comes together and my thoughts are something along the lines of, “Gee, Jo–if you mess this up, or do the wrong thing here, man, you are letting down everybody. The world depends on you doing the perfect thing. All the time.”
Ridiculous. But very me.
Does what I do matter? Yeah, I think so. I have people in my life who are watching to see what decisions I make, whether or not they are wise and humble or whether my actions are kind, not self-absorbed. Sure it matters what conclusions I come to, and how I act on my beliefs, and it matters what I’m concerning my thoughts with.
It’s just that I am not the main character in the story. I’m not, and neither is anyone else I know of. I play a part, and I hope to play it as well as I can, but the world, I don’t think, does not depend on me knowing exactly what to do next. That’s comforting to me, and at the same time a little humbling, because I sure act like this world revolves around the (mis)adventures of a girl named Jo.
So, anyway, I was sitting there, thinking things, and it was feeling not at all like mid-February, because there was a cool, calm breeze that kept rolling around the side of the building. It was my favorite time of day, the sort of twilight that seems to last so much longer than you’d expect. The sun keeps getting lower and lower, but it’s already gone behind the horizon so there’s not a large difference in lighting. The subtlety of lighting in the west grow yet more subtle, and the skeletons of trees are black against its glow.
That’s one thing I never noticed, is the effect of pine trees against the sunset. I used to think pine trees were hideous and only served to block the horizon and the sky. They always felt so confining. Well, come to find out they’re actually very pretty, especially at dusk against the sunset.
That’s about it for this story, except to say that I discovered my flipflops, randomly. I happened to look down at the ground and there they were, just sitting there. Turns out I’d been missing them for months now, ever since some outdoor party we had here. I sort of hated to pick them up, conformed as they were to the dirt. I had to pry one of them loose from the grass that had grown up around it. So that was pretty neat.
Like I said at the beginning, there’s no real point to this story. It’s just a story. Sometimes, though, I appreciate stories that aren’t trying to get me to do anything in particular, and that aren’t convincing me I’m wrong or that I should change or do something all-important. There’s a place for those stories, and I often post stories like that on here, but just sometimes, it’s good to be content. I wish I knew how to be content in every situation, but I don’t. We keep learning.
If there’s something I would encourage you to try, it’s to eat outside sometime on a nice day. Eat with a friend, maybe, and tell stories that maybe seem pointless. Listen. Take a break from phones and having to feel on-call and in the loop 24/7. It’s nice to just be.