“Live to the point of tears.” -Albert Camus
For as long as I can remember I have felt that life moves so very fast…too fast. I remember being a little girl and trying to capture everything in my little pink diary with a heart shape lock. I never understood why the grand design of life would be at a pace that seemed impossible to cherish. But with the birth of my daughter and the death of my brother coinciding, the desire to cherish life has become ravenous within me.
Commence Mission: “Enhance Cherishing Skills.”
Recently, I had this image of myself standing under a waterfall. In this metaphor, the water flowing over me represents life and each water droplet stands for a moment in this life. I realized that the “point” was to stand underneath this powerful waterfall and simply experience it; to be in awe of its grandeur and grateful for the chance.
So if gratitude and awe feel far away from me during the daily grind…what exactly am I doing while this gift of life falls over me?
I am underneath trying to fill tupperware containers. I am trying to organize the moments, over-analyze them, preserve them, regret them, resist them, re-live them, convince myself I don’t deserve them, numb myself to the experience of the scary ones, avoid the ones that hurt, hoard the ones that feel good, put glitter on some, make trophies out of others, and be jealous of the “drops” in other people’s waterfalls. I am annoyed because water is in my eyes and my feet are slipping on the wet ground. I am angry because despite my efforts, I am unable to control the sheer force of this waterfall. I am doing everything BUT “experiencing.” So instead this waterfall feels more like a fire hose pointed at my face than a cherish-able gift.
Either way, it is the same life… just a different perspective. One induces gratitude and the other pisses me off.
And it dawned on me…a possible reason why the Grand Designer did not make moments infinite was for people like me who get their tupperware containers out and shake their fists at the “perceived” fire hose. I imagine the Grand Designer’s only hope was to make life powerful, somewhat spontaneous and so very short… hoping that in the intensity I would feel each moment fully and then release it, in order to engage fully in the next moment. So that I could delight in the unknown. So the pain wouldn’t last. So that I could do what I imagine the Great Designer would call “Living.”
So why would I be “living” any other way?
Continue Mission: “Enhance Cherishing Skills”
I decided to perform an experiment. I consciously chose the “waterfall” over the “fire hose” perspective during a normal afternoon with my daughter. We were making muffins. We were alternating between baking and dancing to her favorite song. And then it happened… tears came streaming down my face. And they kept falling and falling. This moment became so vivid. I could clearly see Her and how much she had changed from the infant that I clutched to my chest after my body released her. I could intimately feel Myself as a mother (Me! as a Mother!) and feel the intimacy of this unique relationship with her. I was aware of the beautiful subtleties of our language, the intricate way we navigate a day together, and the way we attempt hold each other’s hearts carefully in the daily grind. I could feel all of the wonder between us, hidden in this random house, in this one city, in this one country, in the midst of an entire world, in a vast galaxy. I could feel all the magic that had allowed our specific souls to be in this space during this time. I could feel the quiet dimensions of my love for her that I will never have words for and the external world will never know of. I felt everything that I desperately wanted to preserve in my tupperware containers.
Many of the tears cried that afternoon were from immense gratitude and awe; but I realized something else…I was grieving. I realized that in the “fire hose” perspective there is a protective delusion of chaos that keeps me from facing that we are in the process of leaving each other. This is not meant to sound faith-less or melancholy, but rather embracing a clear understanding about the agreement of this human existence. An understanding that I am realizing is imperative to cherishing this life fully. We might transform into glorious angels and hug forever, but the way that I am able to interact with her in this frail human skin is fleeting. “What is,” is quickly changing into “what was,”despite how much my heart adores it.
Each beautiful moment carries its necessary shadow: heart-stricken grief. Everything that we love deeply, we will long for forever. And this is what I believe we unconsciously avoid and why we find ourselves feeling like this gift of life is a brutal fire hose. The moment we were born; we begin our ascent into the next world. Fleeting impermanence is the soil that allows us, (if we choose) to cherish and be grateful; to live rather than pass time. To face that our tupperware containers won’t survive the Great Transition. And whether we stand under this waterfall in gratitude or wave our fists at the perceived fire hose…this life is passing. And in order to cherish this life, we must be brave enough to grieve as powerfully as we live…and that takes the bravest of hearts…one I am not sure I have.
Integrate Mission “enhance cherishing skills” into daily life.