I was standing at the sink washing dishes yesterday and all of a sudden a memory popped into my head. It was of being in the backseat of a car on a visit to Canada at Christmas time. (I was still living in Trinidad at the time). We were actually going to a holiday house-party, I think, and I recalled now my excitement about “Christmas in the cold” (as opposed to our balmy 76-80 degree tropical Christmases). In case you are wondering, the novelty of this has long since worn off. But the main thing about this memory yesterday was “seeing” the people in the front. They were a couple whom I loved a lot, not blood relations but I called them “uncle” and “auntie” as is the norm in the Caribbean: a sign of respect for “your elders”. Uncle was driving. He was then a dynamic man in his early fifties and I admit to having quite the schoolgirl crush on him, for he was so well-read and articulate and intelligent and funny. He would treat me with such consideration and we would have discussions about books and various philosophical matters, during the course of which I was made to feel that my opinion actually mattered: a dizzying, euphoric feeling for a young person. And Auntie was so full of fun and zest for life, a beauty and a prolific cook who loved nothing more than to have her house full of guests and stuff them to the gills…and boy did she ever know how to throw back her head and laugh. She called me “Sweetie” and that may sound saccharine to you, but it was said with such love and sincerity that I would feel like a million dollars hearing it. I have begun here with a digression from my topic but as I began to write here now, all this came back to me. What I really wanted to talk about this morning, what that memory yesterday made me ponder, was how ordinary life experiences sometimes come back as the sweetest of remembrances. That drive in the car was just a “normal” ride, I don’t recall much about the actual party, nothing life changing ensued that evening…but here I am, now in “the future” and auntie died a couple of years ago from metastasized breast cancer and uncle is now confined to a wheelchair and has Alzheimer’s. What am I getting at here? That we often fail to venerate and celebrate, or even just stand in conscious awareness of, the preciousness of the ORDINARY moments of ORDINARY life. Those times when nothing particularly spectacular is happening…..we get up, we go to work, we fix meals, we do laundry, we go to sleep and get up and do it all over again. Pretty routine, right? But here’s the thing: we are healthy (or at least not bedridden), we have people we love physically accessible to us, we are able to move independently, we were able to go to the bathroom on our own and wipe our own ass, we saw another sunrise or a sunset, we looked in the closet and had a choice of clothing, we did not go hungry….my God, these are nothing short of miracles for many people on the planet. Yet daily, we usually either take these things for granted or we long for more excitement, declaring that we are so very bored with our lot or we fantasize about how much better things could be. Frankly, and I say this to myself first, this is an attitude of monumental ingratitude. The only moment we have for sure is this moment now, this one breath we are breathing now is the only one of which we are certain. And if in this moment, you are okay, that is of great significance, a huge blessing. In the blink of an eye, an “ordinary” life may become a living nightmare. I am not being fatalistic by any means…..I AM saying that every beat of our heart is a gift and we need to hold the awareness of this. We need to embrace all of our life: the good, the shitty, the dark, the wow moments, the humdrum moments…each and every experience in its spectrum. And I don’t mean just a sort of resigned, stoic, dutiful embrace…I mean a tight, bear-hug, life-affirming embrace. The kind that squishes your breath out. The kind that pays tribute to the Sacredness of Now without any judgment of it. The kind I used to get from uncle and auntie both, while they still could. So I wish us all a happy, ordinary day…made extraordinary only by our gratitude for it.
I am a field of awareness. Any thing beyond that is identification with form...