When I am back at school, I am plugged in. I can picture myself so vividly – crouching over a little cubicle desk. I am staring at my computer – working on a paper or maybe a problem set. I am distracted from my work only by other things popping up on a screen in front of me – a facebook notification or a text message. But nothing around me draws my eyes away from my thirteen inch computer screen. My headphones are playing some genre of music into my ears, masking the sounds of the world around me – of people flowing in and out of the library. Maybe a friend has passed by…I wouldn’t notice.
When I am back at school, I am plugged in. I am using tangled headphones connecting my phone in my pocket to my ears as I walk to class. Sometimes, if I am in a “loving life” type of mood, I will listen to country. Isn’t that ironic? I am loving life yet so definitively severing myself off from it.
When I am back at school, I am plugged in. I am lying in bed with my white noise machine on. It blurs all the sounds around me. I can’t even hear my breathing or the soft and steady beating of my heart, just the white noise that fills my ears and dulls my senses.
It is different here.
When I run in the morning in Los Brazos, the small Dominican town in which Taino Organic Farm is located, I don’t use my headphones. I can hear my breath, the soft gallop of Piggy–the loyal farm dog of Finca Taino, the roosters talking to each other across the valley, the moos of the various cows we pass, the occasional “hola” from the early risers sitting on their porches enjoying the first yellow light of the day, the squeals of pigs (they didn’t sound particularly happy to be waking up), the sound of the wind and the subsequent elegant sway of the green that surrounded me. There are an infinite amount of sounds at any point in time, no matter where you are in this world. We can’t hear all of them–we couldn’t possibly. But that’s not a reason to miss the beautiful ones that we can hear.
When I go to bed at night at Finca Taino it seems that everyone around me is having their bedside chat with each other. I fall asleep to the occasional heehaw of the donkey who lives a floor down from me, to the chitter chatter of the chickens, the wind, the insects enveloped by the dark sky, the sound of far-away bachata dance music, a moto zooming by – a night just beginning or ending.
When I wake up at Finca Taino it is early – 5:50 typically. It seems the world is wide awake and the light is just beginning to illuminate the world. I think it would be wrong to be frustrated by this, to be mad at the light and and the creatures for waking me up. It would be sad for these early morning sounds to anger me.
“Wake up grateful”; I read that somewhere recently. It is so easy to do that here.
At home I wake up to my alarm clock as well. It typically goes off around 6:15. In the winter, it would be dark still. It’s not the early morning blue kind of dark, but a black – an endless thick black – dark that makes the morning feel so far away. Even still, there were so many reasons to be grateful to be jolted awake by the alarming noise coming from my phone.
Here, waking up to the sound of the rest of the world, to the light streaming through my window–that is such an easy, obvious, and accessible reason to be grateful. It is so easy that gratitude is becoming a habit – almost an instinct. That is what nature can do; that is what can happen when I am no longer plugged in.
I think that when I return home, back to school, back to the “grind” after two months here in Los Brazos and Cabarete on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic, it will be hard not to wake up grateful. A hard habit to break.