Behold! What is that slow-moving mostly-horizontal creature on yonder horizon?
It be Steff! Yes, yes. Embracing the spirit of “r and r” to the, well, letter, yes, here on day four of the vacation. Yesterday I cycled. Today, I’ll do yoga. And a little light cleaning. I’ve done dishes. Faced the ugly bits-of-food sink-clogging drama that I so hate. I blame the chickpeas. I’ve taken out some trash. Laundry. Bleh. But at least I’m moving around and doing things.
Saturday: I blogged. The rest of the day? I was too tired to even go choose one of my DVDs to watch. I could have been entertained by a test pattern. Then I went to bed at 10. How’s that for exciting?
After months of go-go-go, I stopped. I barely even cooked. Yesterday, I finally cycled. And I remembered why all the go-go-go, as hard as it was, often felt completely, totally worth it, if only in little tiny moments.
Cycling was awesome. Beautiful breeze with salt in the air, just hot enough. Mostly empty trails. Not too dusty yet. Spring air. Great scenery. It was one of those brief but indelible “Nobody anywhere is having a nicer time than I am at exactly this minute. This is contentment” moments. They don’t come around often, so it’s nice to do like I did: Stop the bike, take a look around, and say “Yes, life is sweet”. I took a deep breath, grinned, and played “No Rain” on my iPOD and carried on. I just loved the whole experience from start to finish. The perfect ride.
I caught a snippet of a show not too long ago, Serious Andes, a BBC reality show with kids where 8 preteens from 12 to 14 are taken on an expedition up the 20,000-foot Cotopaxi volcano in the Andes, a journey that would cripple most adults, and, on top of that, they were to build a massive enclosure for endangered bears being returned to the wild, as their final stop before the wild. This 12-year-old, Josh, at the end of building the massive bear enclosure by themselves, mixing thousands of buckets of concrete by hand at high altitude, and doing fencing, in freezing ice rain, for nearly a week, at 2am in the morning, dead tired, just stops, looks around, turns to the camera, and goes, “I’m taking a moment to remember how great this moment feels, because I have to remember this for the rest of my life.”
And I found myself wondering just how many adults are wise enough to consciously stop in the middle of truly great moments to make a note of how THAT feels so you can draw upon that memory, that bliss, through all your moments left to live in your life. Do you? Do you really realize your memory of THAT moment needs to stand up for 30, 40, 50, 60 years in your mind? Do you?
I do. I’ve been this way, since, fuck, I don’t know. I was a kid, I guess. I’m totally fine today, but as a kid I had a rare kidney condition and spent some time in the Children’s Hospital, on the cancer ward, ‘cos my condition was serious at the time. I was in the room with Lisa, a 13-year-old with lung cancer. She was awesome. Funny, beautiful. She was 13.
And I woke up after a few days of bunking with her, and she was dead. Alarms had blared. Something happened. She died, and now the gurney squeaked as her body was taken out. I think I realized then how small we all are in the scheme of things, how quickly things pass and change.
I haven’t used that lesson to the best of my abilities, but at least I use it. I don’t live every day with reckless abandon, hedonistic “today’s the first day of the rest of your life” fervour, but I certainly find it in me to celebrate moments. And there, alone, under a blue sky by a rushing river, no one around but the ducks, I felt about as alive and grateful as I’ve ever felt. Didn’t cost me a cent, didn’t require anyone’s interaction, didn’t even need me going on a voyage. Just an iPOD and a bike and there you have it. Life, and the meaning thereof, served on a platter, if only for the briefest of moments.
Why are here? ‘Cause we lucked out. What are you gonna do about it? What’s the meaning of life? I don’t know, but I’ve long since decided giving it meaning is the next best thing to knowing.
And clarity may only come in the briefest of moments, but if you stop and enjoy it, the briefest of moments is all you really need.
So here I am now, enjoying my old new wave music, bopping around my apartment, doing nothing… because, right now, nothing feels like everything.