Monday, September 24, 2018

Day Three Thousand Nine Hundred and Nineteen . . . Only the living.

What makes this life exciting?

Do you know? Does it really matter?

I don't know about you, but I often have to check myself and make sure I'm still living here in the present tense--seeing, feeling, thinking, doing . . . being here. 

So much of my brain has been portioned off over the last few years to process the news coming at it at light speed. I need to remind myself that "the news" in any format has to pay the bills. And if people aren't paying attention to it in one way shape or form then the lights will eventually get turned off. So while I appreciate keeping up-to-date on what's going on in the world I know that the news is a business and I am a consumer. 

Consuming anything in too large a quantity will eventually lead to bloating. And that's never a good look. 

So it's time for a rest . . . 

I love the autumn in New England and today was (and still is) a perfect specimen. 

Just last week I had to break out the wool-lined slippers that had enjoyed a comfortable couple of seasons in the back of the closet. They take the place of my blue, suede, made-for-the-Japanese-market Birkenstock sandals that take me from the bedroom door to the mud room and back again hundreds if not a thousand or more times from sometime in May until the middle of September. I used to walk through the bedroom across the white carpet (came with the house) but my very smart and very patient wife, Jodi, has gently convinced me that that is not in the white carpet's best interest. So they stay just outside the door like a well-behaved black lab ready for action at a moment's notice. 

The Birks can eventually commiserate with my boxer pajama bottoms that are in semi-retirement. My flannel PJs have sent the equipment truck to the ball park in wait for opening day. That'll be sometime in the first week of October. 

And my precious wool blazers are starting to feel a little less conspicuous. They fit in better with the shorter and colder days.

Tee shirts will always be in season, but my black (almost always black) crewneck sweaters usually get the lead story in my wardrobe this time of year. They ask so little while providing such a solid base of sartorial confidence.

But I love any season, really. Because I love this life. And I don't mean my life, necessarily. I don't mean what I do for a living or even what I do for enjoyment. 

I just mean life. 

I can only speak for myself, of course. After all it is the story that I can see from my two eyes bouncing around the ether and interweaving with other people's--hopefully for the better of both. The people and the places and the events that transpire--even if it's just holding the door for somebody or a smile exchanged while passing by in the supermarket. These are the things that only the living can do. 

On so many occasions in past years I would lament having to get up early and go to work, or have to meet somebody who I didn't really know--having to make small talk and hoping I didn't come off as shallow or uninterested or worse . . . uninteresting. But that almost always goes both ways. 

These are things we all do. These are all bullet points in the social contract we sign as we grow and mature into a person. It can take all our time worrying that we might have said the wrong thing or should have said something when we left an awkward pause. Conversely we can feel such joy in sharing a laugh over something that connects us. We can feel proud that we did well on a test after working so hard and pushing ourselves into a place we're uncomfortable with. 

Sometimes just walking into a building is a test in itself. We have so many interactions out and about on any given day that fall somewhere in between a pass and a fail. I can look back on ten of them in the last hour of running errands and give myself a grade: a solid B+.

But I don't normally do that. And I definitely am being generous with that B+ . . . but this is my life and I hold the black pen as well as the red one. I correct my own tests.

There is love and life and happiness everywhere I look. I see it in the faces of the people who live in my town. I saw it last night when we gathered on the lawn of the local library to sing some songs together. Some songs we all knew and some were learned on the spot. But the breath of two hundred or more people under the light of the harvest moon made magic out of an otherwise uneventful September Sunday. 

Only the living can do that. 

I have begun to learn another language that doesn't use the Roman alphabet. Finally I have a chance to learn how to write with a pen so that it is actually readable, even if only by a few hundred million people. This language uses straight and curved lines, yes, but they make shapes that most Americans only associate with ethnic foods and action movies. I'm learning how to combine them to make whole and cogent thoughts. Soon they will become longer sentences with verbs and adjectives and some day they will become actual paragraphs just like this one you are reading in English. Each time I attach a new meaning to these letters and words it helps me realize that all I know isn't all there is. 

Only the living can do that. 

I still procrastinate and put things off that I should do today. I'll never fully outgrow that. But the lifestyle I have allows me to at least pull away from time to time and assess where I am now in relation to where I want to be. I have a long ways to go in a few aspects and there are life tasks that I have to get done with however many years I have left on this earth. 

I get distracted.

I get excited.

I feel overwhelmed.

I let emotions get the better of me.

I overstep.

I make corrections. 

I feel regret.

I feel whole.

I feel less than.

I fear the dark.

I find a dollar on the ground.

I smile and nod and feel a wave of acceptance.

I think I'm twenty one again. 

I see a new wrinkle.

I see it go away when I smile. 

I turn out the light.

I wake up with love in my heart. 

Only the living can do that. 

Thanks for reading,


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