Friday, October 12, 2007

Perfectly Ordinary Morning

You know those moments in life where things are just right, and you think to yourself, well this is what it's all about, and life is good in spite of all the bad stuff that happens to people, and this is peace?  The one I always remember was when I was 20 and living abroad in Montpellier in the south of France.  A group of us had taken a long bus ride to Venice for carnival, and we were tired and a little crazy the way American college students in foreign places are.  We were all pretty broke, too, so the plan was to get to Venice, hang out and party at carnival, then hop on the same bus back the next morning.  We had no hotel room to stay in overnight, so we would all have to stay up all night, or crash where we could.

Anyway, it was a long and stimulating day.  By about midnight, we all had met up in the Piazza San Marco, where things were reaching a fevered pitch.  Hundreds, maybe thousands, of people from all over the world were swaying and dancing to an afro-carribbean band, its singer swinging his dredlocks and chanting, "love, love to the people!."  And we all went wild and hugged everyone around us and danced and danced all night.  I remember looking up at the stars and thinking, well this is what it's all about, life is good in spite of all the bad stuff that happens to people, this is peace.  I'll never forget that moment.  My feet were so swollen I couldn't remove my shoes on the busride back to Montpellier, and I'd never been so exhausted in all my life, but I couldn't have been happier, a goofy smile on my face the whole way. 

I woke up this morning to one of those kinds of moments.  No rasta singer in my bedroom, no worldwide jam in a plaza of Italy, but a perfect peace nonetheless. 

Things started off good from the get.  Addie work her self up at six to pee, rather than wetting the bed, then came into bed with us, cuddly and fidgety and warm.  When I respectfully requested (okay, commanded!) that Eric take himself downstairs to make us coffee, he did.  I lay in bed, beginning the book Eat, Pray, Love (also about a woman who finds the divine peace in Italy!) putting it down to watch the darkness fade, the outlines of the dozens of trees outside the wall of windows in our bedroom come into relief.

Though not enough relief, since I'm practically blind.  I got up to put my contacts in so that I could fully appreciate these amazing trees, and their changing colors, and stillness.  I listened to my husband and my kids laughing and talking to one another downstairs, and burrowed deeper under the comforter with my book.  Gratitude flowed and flowed, without my even having to think about it or look for it.

I had to get up and get the computer and write this, because perfect moments of being require some sort of expression, and I want to remember this one, and to note how grateful I am for this life, pukefests and deadlines and all.  Despite all these things, I have more and more of these moments as I grow older.  They're maybe not as earth-shattering as they were when I was twenty, when I had no idea such a thing as stillness, the divine could exist in me.  They are quieter now, deeper.  But much more frequent. 

This is what it's all about.  Life is good.  This is peace.


  1. This post reminded me of a similar 20 year-old experience. I was abroad in San Sebastian, a coastal Spanish city, for the language-intensive intro to a year in Spain. I took my walkman and went for a run on the first evening of a film festival they were having. I'll never forget the lights of the festival bleeding through the fog that drifted over the river as I ran along the riverwalk and out to the edge of some kind of pier or dock. I listened to Van Morrison's Astral Weeks all the way through for the first time. It was heaven.

    So thanks for that memory. Now I have to meet a deadline...

  2. You're so right, Jen, to express the goodness of life when it's present. Your expression of it makes me happy.