Bare feet padded down the carpeted staircase of my small home. Though hindered by the bag of laundry I carried and the injury to my left knee, I was feeling refreshed and alive from my time spent with God that morning.
As I neared the kitchen a sharp smell assaulted my nostrils. Oh, right, the trash. I pulled my shirt over my nose to shield my precious sensory neurons from the violent odor.
My exposed feet embraced the varying contours of the ground on the quick journey to the swamp green sentinel standing watch by the road to the rest of the world. I passed my malodorous sack on to his hands.
Leaving the loyal sentry behind I reentered the kitchen and lifted the glass barrier between the inner and the outer realms. The screen, however, remained. Its continual, filtering presence a comfort, even while knowing that a simple push could send it toppling to the floor.
After beginning a load of laundry and partaking in some delectable yogurt, I filled a mug with creamer, hot chocolate, black tea, and half-calf coffee. I stirred the mixture with a butter knife and found a surprisingly tasty combination.
As I sipped the concoction from a large mug, my eyes were drawn to the outside world. Nature’s melody entered through the small, porous square. I gazed through the lens and felt the pull towards the trees and the air.
I considered bringing the rectangle that was with me nearly every moment, but decided against it as well as the notebook I had delved into my room upstairs for.
No, today it would be just me, my mug, and my mind out in the open air.
I was excited, but felt a strange trill of fear as my toes tapped along the wood to the banister. An array of activity passed through my heart and mind. Fear, fog, intrigue, sweet joy. A pair of blue jays flitted through the branches above the ground. One stopped for a moment and seemed to meet my eyes, as if it were interested in me as well.
The birds soon moved on from my sight, perhaps they would be seen by another.
My next-door neighbor, an older gentleman in a red shirt, stepped through the door onto his porch. We greeted each other with smiles, though trepidation had entered my heart.
The man was friendly and began telling me stories of the critters that had arrived, mostly unbidden, around his house and in the trees behind. I was happy to hear his words, but also nervous at the prospect of conversing. Fortunately, he seemed content with my small responses and continued to speak for awhile before returning to his dwelling place.
I smiled and thanked God that I’d gotten to speak with this man. It was rare that I spent time on this porch so I was grateful to have received the opportunity to connect with my neighbor.
I too, soon returned to the familiar walls of my home. The electric rectangle lay where I had last seen it, on the kitchen table near the notebook I’d left behind.
I wondered, if I had brought either object outside, would my experience have been the same?
Would my neighbor have spoken to me if I had brought that glowing shield with me? Would I have seen the jays? Felt the joy? Felt the fear?
I had walked into another world with fewer barriers around me.
Did this man see something familiar in me that contributed to his inclination to speak to me? Did he see something that is becoming increasingly rare?
Someone simply looking out into the world.
Just me, my mug, and my mind.