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Column: Let the noise and clamor cease with this summer scene
Kayaking in Florida

Summer Saturday, a meditation 

Be still. Let the noise and clamor cease. 

Easier said the done, so while I have no expertise in meditation, here’s a scene that gives me some calm amid the craziness of this world. 

You’re sitting atop a kayak, calm, shallow sea water stretches in every direction. The water is rimmed by land with low-growing plants. The sun is high in the sky and warms your skin.  

Glittering tiny fish pass under your kayak.  

A crane sits still as a statue on a branch across the cove. 

And there is silence. 

Silence. 

The crane lifts its wings and rises into the air. The silence was so complete, you can now hear the flap of its wings just as clearly as you could hear your own voice. 

You put one paddle in the water, then dip in the paddle on the other side and pull close to the edge of land. You don’t see them at first, but then a small crab skedaddles sideways along a branch. Then another. 

Again, it’s so quiet, you can hear the tiny crab legs clickety-clacking across those branches. 

There is nothing to do but sit and listen. 

You didn’t notice it before, but the ever-present hum of computer, fridge, a distant lawn mower is strangely absent.  

The sounds of little children yelling and running through the house, a rapid stomp, stomp, stomp, has faded away. 

The dings of new emails and notifications are gone. The buzz of another telemarketer calling your cellphone is gone.  

In fact, the incessant demands for your attention have dissipated completely. There is no child responding with “why” when you tell him to do something. There is no employee asking for more direction on a project or boss asking for a status update. There is no pile of laundry unfolded on the bed. There are no appointments to keep. 

You’re not scrolling past Facebook posts with problematic assumptions and opinions. In fact, if you brought your smartphone out here to this water, you might consider setting it on the top of that water and watching it slowly sink down and further down, where you assume some sort of sea plants may soon start growing on the rubbery case. 

There is only water with its fish and rays, sky with its cranes and seagulls and land with its crabs and lizards. 

You briefly consider becoming a hermit, living in a shack along the water and eating fish caught straight from the ocean. No one can give you COVID here. No one is interested in arguing with you here. The needs are only your own.  

Or maybe you should become a hermit crab, with life simpler still, scurrying across sand and nibbling on plants. 

Your mind can wander without distraction, but it’s not pulled toward the concerns of work or bills or chores.  

There is a space as expansive as the water and the sky. 

Buried emotions may rise. You have the room to consider them, to express them, to process them. 

Salty tears could mingle with the salty ocean. A shout or scream could break the silence, only to be carried away by the wind and enveloped again with serene quiet. 

The cove is not afraid of your pain. The water continues lapping against your kayak. The sun continues shining. The losses, the unfairness of life, the struggles lose some power. 

And there is peace. 

Shannon Casas is editor in chief of The Times and a foster parent. 

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