Here was the hum of blossom and
milk weed, run together by wind.
Wind the perfumer
decanting the scent of stem songs
There was the hum of highway
and home stretch, divided by the dimming light.
A few years ago I wrote the lines above, hoping to preserve something of my summer evenings as a young girl in rural southern Ontario. The memory of how it felt to leave the noise of our house behind and sit alone with my thoughts was becoming harder to summon, edged out by responsibilities and a steady stream of information and diversion. I missed finding quiet places where I could disconnect and see the world from a different angle. This blend of nostalgia and loss prompted the beginning of Absent Hour, an online space that hopefully inspires the creation of quiet, offline spaces in our homes and routines - hideaways where we can experience absence.
What once only required walking out the back door and hopping over a narrow stream now takes discipline and the intentional rerouting of daily habits. For many of us, definitely for me, the thought of regaining control over the rhythm of our days and crafting a life that reflects our values is appealing. The difficulty seems to be in finding the time to reflect on where our time is spent, and to identify those values in the first place. It seems obvious to say, but routinely taking time away - an evening walk, retreating to a bedroom or escaping to the cottage, is one of the few ways we can see our lives clearly enough to make intentional decisions about them. The paradox of being too busy for absence is, of course, that we’ll never find the time for it unless we go away.