At Ease

This is a companion piece for the previous one "Are You".  I wrote this first and was told it is more cerebral and I should try the same topic  with emotion first.  This is a real thing, being at ease, and some understand more than others.  Some yearn for it more than others, never quite filled up.  I hope you like it, and to the ones from a military background I would ask a bit of indulgence to a layman not steeped in the details.

At Ease

At once both a command and a description.  Spoken by the Drill Instructor, it conveys the next action.  A volitional and deliberate step on the path of the day. Spoken, and carried out, as a necessary function for the next period of time, it is done with permission and with a timeframe. At Ease, can be a marching band posture or a soldier posture, but it is an action that is the result of the leader directing. And with some training and discipline, you will actually force the relaxation to happen.

Used in the manner of a description though, it carries the idea of safe and content and no judgement. As in, “you make me feel at ease, I like that.” It is usually said with a smile and a tilt of the head. It is a statement that can include the deep and relaxing sigh and a feeling of relief at the recognition of it.  It is internal and disarming.  A place of enjoyed vulnerability.

An interesting thing, however, is that we all can do both of these.  Sometimes we can tell others to be at ease and we can also give others a sense of peace and calm. To experience that ease, that we may ourselves be desiring. Think of the grandmother that needs to hold and calm the scared or anxious child.  Here is another thought on that, there is a width and depth to this action.  Some people bring peace to a large or intense situation.  Others can only calm (or be calmed) in specific and narrow situations, or by a limited number of people.  Many times, the only thing to console a small child is their “blanky” or some favorite stuffed animal.  It is the same with people of all ages, really.  I can think of times that anyone could have given peace to a situation and other times that it is only “that one friend” that will do.  I went to the wedding of a friends’ daughter recently and the dad turned from something else and saw me unexpectedly.  We hugged, and then he held longer, and started weeping.  He felt at ease to “let down the guard”, and so he could.  It was a big day and his wife was glad that he finally pushed past the barrier.  At Ease.

I was sitting on the couch with a younger person and we were chatting.  I asked if they had ever played the “Squeeze” game.  They said no so I explained the rules.  Hold hands, one person starts a story and then will squeeze the hand of the other, unexpectedly, in mid-sentence and it is then the job of the partner to finish the sentence or thought.  No thinking about it, just run with it.  Lots of wild shifts of direction and crazy things put together and lots of fun.  When you are at ease.  If you are laying in bed at the end of a day of activities it is a great way to pry loose some of the details of what is packed in the brains of little kids.  It would work on adults too, if we were at ease.  You see, it becomes a Litmus Test for creativity.  Willing to be silly and knowing you will not only be accepted but added too in fun and spontaneous ways… unless you can’t, and you aren’t.  At Ease

It is curious to me how many people will come up to strangers in the grocery store and ask funny things. Like somehow, they have a hat that says “Ask me anything” on it.  Others have other places and or smaller groups that single them out.  Some never get asked, others seemingly can’t shut it off, whatever it is, and are in constant conversation with even complete strangers.  Oddly though, I think it is about like a mirror of the freedom and the “people group” that these people are most comfortable around.  There is some hidden signal for the group members that gets passed around like someone’s cologne, or word usage, or hand signal.  The bell rings, and they know, and they come.  At Ease.

It is an interesting thing to look at as to who you feel comfortable with and who you don’t.  Body shapes, ages, gender, time of trials and times of normal function.  Times around a fire, or a coffee shop, a concert or a park.  There is also the issue of “willingness” as well.  You can give the “stink eye” and drive people away when you need, or perhaps you do it and aren’t even aware.  It happens.  Like the way you feel when you have a “sugar jitters” thing and you need some protein quick.  You can tell, but at times it comes later than is helpful.  To be clear, I think there is a part of this that is found in people that have a clear and strong “self-awareness” about them.  So, it works for some in the grocery store because they are “at ease” in that space.  Teachers of small children are always “at ease” with small children and that makes them an easy target for the child that is scared or lost or just needing a hug, and the teacher is always ready to comply.  This type of thing explains many situations and groups in them, but there are other times that don’t fit.  Times when the safe place comes un-expectedly and deeper than expected. Then, At ease.

What of those rare types, that seemingly are always there and always refreshing, for the ease they give?  Like a cool glass of water, they show up and you change.  Deeply. Internally. Foundational change.  Finally, you can say your piece, tell you story, be heard.  Like a call from “that one friend”, and you talk and then you go quiet… intimacy happens. Special times, and special needs make special friends.  Even when they are dark times and hard times. Truly though, you cannot give what you do not have.  So, the inverse is of course true.  If you could have, you would have… by recognizing you didn’t, you then (after the humility biscuit) can figure out just what is missing and how much work you need to do to achieve it.  That labor is generally found in the jungles without a trail.  Much struggle is found on the making of that trek through the undergrowth of growth.  Many are the meals of bugs and bad weeds learning how to be at ease with the dying and sick and the wounded by life.  They are quick to know if you are an “empty suit” or if you have done the work needed to have a place at that table.  You will know as well. Liking it is different than being able to carry it out.  Having trod the press and stomped the grapes may bring the tears of those trials back to the front of your eyes and you will need to let them run down your cheeks, again.  Being at ease is not easy.

Last thought.  Being at ease is something that is like thirst.  When you are thirsty you hope there is drink.  Being in a state of “dis-ease” only gives the anticipation of ease.  The hope that is within us. Finding a place to quench that thirst is a scale, as well.  Some are always needing touched and shown that they are loved.  Others can go long distances in dry lands and leave observers in awe.  You can go back to the issue of being “self-aware”.  Of knowing who you are and what you are about.  The reason I know this is because I can listen to the bell ring.  In others and in myself. Like a chameleon, you “become” what is needed.  To a small child perhaps a hug and a smile.  To a lover, it is time in front of the crackling fire with your head on their shoulder and your face in their neck. Eyes shut and ears listening to the sounds of the night and the quiet breathing. To a friend it is the simple holding on in the midst of a private storm… and holding on still... Until you are at ease.  You know who you need to call… and who you don’t.  And why.  Enjoy your conversation.


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