Time, Space, and the Rosemary Bush

I go outside because I need to go home to myself. Too long indoors and I forget what my own skin feels like. It needs sunlight, it needs a cold stiff breeze scrubbing against it to know its own boundaries--where my body begins and the world ends--it needs rain.

I went out this morning with the dog to wander around the neighborhood. His perambulations guide our walks, though they don't make much sense to me, because I don't normally go about based on my sense of smell. We stop at benches and street lamps, the corners of fences; we stop at the neighbor's rosemary bush and a perfectly uninteresting clump of grass. Everything must be very carefully and thoroughly smelled and then peed upon. It's a ritual rivaling any one of the world's major religions. He all but crosses himself after every single one.

I choose to be patient this morning, instead of dragging him past his chosen stops. I choose to see the things around me: the leaves of trees silvering in a strong breeze; dark clouds gathering overhead; the flagrant, shameless red of the roses that release their scent so close to my nose while the dog cocks his leg on their lower branches. I take photos. I let words flow through my head. I notice the bumper sticker on a car: a large black and white image of a bald man. I think it might be Gandhi, or else the guy from Breaking Bad; I don't know, I never really watched the show, but I dream of a world where the two might be similar. Passionate, desperate, impoverished men, with a singular goal. Men who don't have much time.

I have time. My brain tricks me, most days, into thinking I don't, but I do. I have as much or as little time as anybody else. Today I have what feels like a dragon's lair of gold full of time. Hours before I have to be anywhere. Hours to wander around and let my skin remember itself, remember what its borders contain: bones that feel light as birds' wings, blood that travels from my fingertips to my feet, a heart that aches sometimes with the weight it carries. I am made of molecules tinier than anything I'll ever see which are 99% space--which is larger than anything I'll ever imagine. Buddhists have known this for centuries. In comparison, physicists figured it out a few years ago. My dog, with his sacred circles of the rosemary bush, doesn't know and wouldn't care that he is 99% space. Does any of it matter? Does time matter? It does to me, today.

We pass the roses and the rosemary again on our way home. They smell so riotous it is like somebody has crushed them together, like maybe god is conjuring up a new form of gorgeous in her giant lab. Who knows? She could be creating another whole universe, one that is contained entirely in the bowl of a rose blossom, and nourished with the rain that drips from the spires of a rosemary bush. If so, I hope there is a dog passing by, leading his human by the hand, and stopping her so that she will notice how slowly time passes there, in that place, while down below he does his business with the grave attention of a saint.


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