Keep the world at bay

Photograph taken yesterday evening, walking to dinner with Grace.  The iphone, while valiant in its effort, could not really capture the light on the branches.  It seemed alive, warm, full of promise and the hope of spring.

I love the Dixie Chicks.  One of my favorite of their songs is Easy Silence, and it runs often through my head.  It is doing so today.  The lines that I hear, over and over again, are these:

… I come to find a refuge in the
Easy silence that you make for me
It’s okay when there’s nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me…

I love these lyrics, and these images.  Easy silence.  Peaceful quiet.  World at bay.  Doesn’t that sound divine?  It’s the last line that I come back to.  The desire for someone to keep the world at bay for me.  I know this urge.  I know it on days when I’m feeling like the world is too much for me, too much with me.  Years ago, I shared this quote, and this longing, with my father.  His reaction was immediate: he sort of scoffed and then said, “but wait, you don’t really want that, do you?” in a tone that clearly suggested that there was a right answer, and that answer was NO.

That response made me think about how I’m not supposed to want that.  I’m supposed to want to engage in the world, risk be damned, right?  In the immortal words of Tom Robbins:

All a person can do in this life is gather about him his integrity, his imagination, and his individuality – and with these ever with him, out front and in sharp focus, leap into the dance of experience. (Even Cowgirls Get the Blues)

Right? I know.  I’m supposed to leap.  I’m supposed to be a strong woman, comfortable with the pain of loss and the bruises of hurt.  To be open to every experience.  I’m supposed to want to go to the woods, to live deliberately.  Aren’t I?  Well, sometimes I do.  But sometimes I don’t.

The truth is, though, that hiding, having someone shield me, and keep the world at bay, is sometimes very seductive to consider.  Of course, this is just another way to say “keep safe,” and we know that is something I long for.  And I don’t, truly, want to be removed from life.  Of course not.  But I do want to be safe.  And there are definitely some days when I ache for someone to keep the world, with all of its pain and menace and fear, as well as its blinding beauty, at bay for me.

19 thoughts on “Keep the world at bay”

  1. I think that life, in all its varying moments, is a combination of leaping or dancing deliberately and pausing in the comfort zones, being buffered by the people that we love, the life we lead, and the feeling of safety that all of it brings us.

    For me, there is no one kind of living. I change so fast it’s hard to keep up with. One day I’m taking life by storm, fearless and deliberate about everything. The next day I just want to hide away and I look for comfort in being silent and alone.

    Peaceful quiet. I think you can have that either way. It is the resting place of your soul–where your heart tells your mind that you are okay with being unsure, with change, with days of feeling full and days of feeling empty.

  2. Well obviously, I am a freak like you, because I saw that line and was immediately drawn to it. “Oh!” I thought. Brilliant.

    Interesting how your father reacted. He hasn’t ever wanted refuge? Escape? Maybe he doesn’t remember the chaos of children 🙂

  3. I suppose balance is the perfection we seek between the energizing whirlwind of life and the quiet refuge of solitude. Both are needed. The yin and yang that is the natural world (warm and cold, dark and light, rose and thorns) reminds us that both are necessary.

  4. I would love to have someone keep the world at bay for me… but instead I am smack dab in the middle of making hard decisions and plans. Once, the decisions are made I hope to rest.

  5. I long for a comfortable marriage of leaping and lying, buffeting and being buffered. As Diane so eloquently reminded me, the natural world shows us the necessity, even the beauty, of a life of contrast.

  6. It’s all about finding the balance…being able to live, love, and even risk at times. Being able to come home to the safety of your own heart will sustain you

  7. If we’re honest, we’ve ALL had times when we wanted the world kept at bay. Of course there are times when we want to jump in. But something quiet and easy and safe is something hard to come by; something not to scoff at; something precious indeed.

    (I too love that song.)

  8. good points. I love the poem “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberatly” I memorized that a year ago and keep it tucked in my wallet.
    YES I want to live life deliberatly, meet the challenges, overcome my weakness
    BUT there are just some days the you long and need for someone to “hold the world at bay” just until you get your feet back under you and catch your breath.

  9. I also gravitate toward safety, and have too often chosen refuge over experience. I’ve been lucky enough to marry a man who is my polar opposite, who pulls me into adventure and prods me to “live deep and suck all the marrow out of life.” And it’s ironic, because he is the one person in the universe who could keep the world at bay for me.
    I loved this post. I find myself nodding, your words resonating, every time I visit here.

  10. I LOVE that Dixie Chicks song! I crave silence in general and that peaceful feeling that can come when the stars align just right. I don’t think it’s bad to not always want to be out taking every risk we can. Balance and all right?!

  11. Whether we go there in actuality or in our minds, sometimes we need to retreat to our little stone cottage, cabin by the lake or cave for hibernation, healing, gestation… sometimes we need to be enwombed and cocooned within the earth to transform to our next Self.

    Some of us can’t be alone, some can’t be with the crowd—and some keep passing back and forth. Thanks for talking about what this is like for you, I find comfort in it.

  12. I think in that dance, there is space to be both seen and hidden. It is written into the ebb and flow of waves, the moon, our own monthly blood flow. (I feel a poem coming on now…)

    Thank you for the thoughts & beautiful quote, I added it to my list of favorites.

  13. That song was my husband and my song of choice last year. It described so perfectly what we felt in our mutual embrace. Easy Silence, peaceful quiet, things that we don’t have until the late evening.

    Beautiful reminder, Lindsey.

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