01 Nov Ordinary Things
Sometimes I feel silly for how moved I am by ordinary things – but mostly I am profoundly grateful. I wonder from time-to-time if everyone gets drawn to things in their environment – things that are spectacular even if they are apparently everyday events or simple moments. I would like to share with you an example of being here for ordinary things and how it impacted my life. I hope it opens up a possibility for a sense of well being in your own life.
In honor of their 65th wedding Anniversary, I took my parents on a trip to the beach. My sister Cathy joined us and we stayed in a lovely condo at Pacific beach in Oregon. At 89 and 88 years of age, my mom and dad did not feel inclined to trek down to walk along the shore but the view from the unit was spectacular and the weather was fine. While the whole trip was memorable, particularly since my mother declared it would be the last to the beach given their advanced age, it was a few ordinary things that have been etched in my mind.
On the first evening, my father and sister went to bed early and mom and I watched a succession of old movies – silly and dramatically acted in the style of films from that era that were still influenced by the larger than life style of theater and vaudeville. Throughout the days we spent there, we had turkey chili and omelets, a fire in the gas fireplace behind surprisingly realistic ceramic logs. There were flaming sunsets, semi-tame wild rabbits, sun ripened blackberries along the road where I took my daily walk, sea breezes and morning fog – all of this was great, but the main thing that moved me was an extraordinarily intimate moment, for all that was an ordinary thing.
On the second day of our beach trip, I came in from a walk and found my folks in the living room asleep on the couch. Mom was snuggled down with a blanket and a pillow and Dad was listing slightly to his right, his arm draped across the armrest. I paused as I took in the sweetness of the scene. It was likely something they had done a thousand times before, yet the moment was no less profound for its familiarity. In fact, the very ease of these two people, who I love dearly, was all the more stunning in its simple grace. Quietly entering, I sat in the chair across from them as they slumbered. I knew in my heart that they were closing in on the final chapter of their lives together. And then I saw it once again – the love, the simplicity, how they anchored one another even in repose. Mom’s feet were pressed against Dad’s thigh as he held one foot with his left hand, wedding ring glowing faintly. It was a perfect moment and I was there to see it, there to experience it.
In the recent past,I have seen many things; the play of light on a blazing autumn tree, a jaguar’s lazy piercing gaze, a young child climbing into an enormous bin of brightly colored balls, my grandsons hair dyed in a bright purple Mohawk, a profusion of vegetables at the farmer’s market, a butterfly on a thistle, sheep being herded by a sheepdog that was being trained by a farmer in his field as they clustered around a horse, flowers of all colors and textures and the loving gesture of two people who have spent more time together than many people will spend on this earth – much less with another. I am happy to be here and grateful to have seen and have been moved by all of these “ordinary” things.