By Troy Headrick
I hope you’re not expecting anything profound in this piece. If those are your expectations, you’re likely to be disappointed. Still, I encourage you to read on. Some of you might find something of value in this blog.
It’s summertime in Texas. That means it’s hot. Quite surprisingly, though, as I stepped outside my front door last night at about 9:30, just to sort of see how things were, I discovered that it was breezy and cool. Actually, it was lovely. There was a touch of fall in the air, so I brought a chair outside and sat on the sidewalk in front of the house.
Fifteen or so minutes after I’d taken my seat, the neighbors—the husband and wife who own that large dog a few houses to the west—came down the street with said canine on a leash. The husband waved at me and said, “Nice tonight.” I waved back and agreed, and they passed by, got to the intersection, and turned the corner.
My wife and I live in what could be called a “middle-class neighborhood.” The houses on our street are a combination of one-story and two-story brick affairs. There’s a very “Americana” feel about where we reside.
Last night, while sitting outside after dark, I heard the neighbor’s wind chimes make sweet night music. I watched lights blink on and off in houses. The man who likes to entertain had the doors of his two-car garage open and the television (he keeps a large screen in his garage) was on—by the sound of it, there was a sports event of some sort being televised. The man who lives across from him crossed the street and sat in one of the lawn chairs the man puts out in an inviting way. The men began to talk, and from time to time, I could hear them pull tabs on cans of beer.
The leaves in all the trees rustled. Neighborhood life, in all its various forms, unfolded in front of me. I felt relaxed enough—I was drinking a beer myself—to inhale deeply and exhale slowly. I felt happy. Yes, I distinctly recall feeling what can only be called happiness. In fact, I said as much, to myself, in a quiet voice, though no one was there to hear me.
When I was a much younger man and my grandfather was alive—I loved him more than words can communicate—the two of us used to sit out in exactly this way when I was visiting him and my grandmother. The two of them lived outside of town, in the countryside, so we didn’t have all these neighbors to observe.
I remember that he loved sitting out at night—in exactly the way I did last night—and would always invite me to join him. Usually, there was little conversation. We would simply soak the nighttime beauty in. We would observe the vast, starry sky above, and, when the mood was right, my grandfather would say something like, “Do you see those clouds racing by, across the face of the moon?”
I distinctly recall feeling happy on those nights too.
If there is a moral to this story, it’s this. When the night is nice, take a chair outside and sit for a while. Don’t expect anything extraordinary to happen, but just open up to the experience. Pay attention and don’t pay attention. (It’s possible to do both things at the same time.) If you can pull all this off, I think you’ll feel rewarded. In fact, you might just experience something that can only be called happiness.
Troy Headrick’s personal blog can be found here.
If you’d like to see some of Troy’s art, have a look.