Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Wells Run Dry...Drink While You Can

Baby it's cold outside.  But I'm not complaining.  I'm just under an afghan, sipping hot coffee and wearing a wool hat in the house.  That's how I roll.  I thought about crawling back into bed after the kids were well on their way, but that's not how I roll.  Miss Bit woke me up in the wee hours because she had a nightmare.  I forfeited my spot because I knew sleep was more important for her than me.  The truth is I have few musts on my calendar today.  Another truth is I usually can sleep anywhere and fall back to sleep easily.  Very early this morning my truth was a lie.  In the comforts of Miss Bit's bed, I lay wide awake.  Suddenly, I had a lot on my still tired mind.  So I moved again.  This time to the family room couch, which is always a sure cure for insomnia.  Always until this morning.  I couldn't stop thinking about how much we miss when we are sleeping and I kept hearing this passage from The Sheltering Sky :

Death is always on the way, but the fact that you don't know when it will arrive seems to take away from the finiteness of life. It's that terrible precision that we hate so much. But because we don't know, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.

I've been haunted by this sentiment since I first watched the movie in the early 90s.  I was just a young whippersnapper ready to take on life then.  At 21, the world and my place in it did seem limitless and vast.  There was a sense of infinite potential and endless possibility, yet I paused (literally) when I heard these words spoken.  Call it a Kierkegaardian moment.  I rewound the VCR and hit play as many times as was necessary to transcribe the passage into my journal.  I didn't know what Existentialism was then, but I did already know that I wanted to live with sincerity and authenticity. 

Over the next several weeks, I journaled fervently   My muse : childhood memories.  I was determined that I was going to remember all the things I was destined to forget.  I was going to remember them more than four or five times too!  I still have all those journals.  I have every journal I've ever kept.  I have boxes of them.  I rarely go back and visit them because it is often uncomfortable.  I tended to write more often when I was angry or hurt.  My naivete is troubling.  My pain often palpable.  I cannot change or heal the young girl I was, but I also acknowledge and celebrate that this girl did grow up to be a woman. A strong woman who knows that, in fact, nothing in life is limitless.  That is not foreboding or dark.  It is illuminating and inspiring.  Life's looming ceilings and deadlines remind me that there is no sense in taking a single day for granted.  The daily brinks and verges serve as markers of the matter of every solitary moment...extraordinary or ordinary.

Don't let me fool you...or myself.  I don't walk around living and breathing the mantra: this is the only moment that matters.  It's a decision I try to make...I have to make a hundred times each day.  Be. Here. Now.   I say it out loud.  Be. Here. Now. because here is where you are.  It's no Existential truth, but it's one of mine.

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