The warm foundation walls contract with a bang and a clatter and then a snap from cooling after the furnace kicks off. The sound effects, intermittent with varying degrees of volume and consistency, interrupt an otherwise silence that is characteristic of most days. The stillness and quiet seemingly overpower any audible interruption making me feel as if I am suspended and unconnected. It’s in the quiet where I notice a void.
I sit on one end of a couch in the living room, an east-facing space in the front of the house where sun is abundant, and the picture window is ample to capture a panoramic view of a private street. But inside the house, in this living room, in this particular couch seat, I am out of place. The emptiness is palpable in sound and sight.
Three seaters occupied this couch where I was once sandwiched between two bookend beagles. They lived into their mid-teens which, through no fault of their own, became fixtures due to their extended years. The older they got, the more they became inherent to home. Because of my connection to that which was home, I was in a good place to be. They had their spots and I had mine. Home is a good fit.
We think of home in many dimensions, only able to put meaning to it through our descriptions and characteristics of it. We are at home when the sight of stately oak trees returns us in memory to where we grew up feeling secure and protected seeing those trees in our backyard. We think of home when eating food that is comforting, and we are reminded of home when talking to a stranger who is familiar, who reminds you of your best friend growing up.
Sometimes it takes the absence of connections to discover new ones. In absences we instinctively look to fill the emptiness with exactly what used to fill the void. Though we understand intellectually it won’t happen, we remain on an active search for a best fit for a replacement. I understand my dogs are gone now, but it is the lack of their breath and warmth of canine companionship that causes me to focus on connections that have gone unheeded.
Connections serve many purposes. They act as bridges to help us get from one side to the other; they can help us to move on in times of sadness or loss or when we experience an emptiness. How many times have you sought a hot cup of something on a cold, gray day to feel comforted, warmed and in a better place? Simply taking a walk and being mindful of what you see can connect you to a place that is comforting, familiar and secure, like home.
In silence and absence we instinctually turn to mindfulness. It is a hyper-awareness where you think you can hear a feather drop or feel humidity in the air clinging to your skin. In a state of mindfulness, we are conscious. And through our consciousness, we connect.
The house isn’t really empty or quiet. The furnace turns off and the house’s bones clank and snap in contraction reminding me of security, comfort and familiarity speaking to me in connection. Despite any absence, I remain connected in some way.
The foundation is not only a house, but a home, calling me to mindfulness of the many connections I have to it.