I know it when they arrive. My heart is suddenly a meadow I am walking through. I don’t need anything except exactly what I’m doing. I don’t know when these moments will strike — they usually come by surprise, and I think my face probably registers slight shock, almost like an orgasm but different.
The other day I saw someone in the middle of such a moment. He was waiting for the bus on a late morning that had turned warm after several days of cold. As I drove by, he closed his eyes and looked up toward the sky, like a cat narrow-gazed in a slant of sunlight coming in through the window.
What still frustrates me is how many moments unlike these dominate my days: minutes that total hours that total years when I ride shotgun in anxiety’s car or roll around in bed with fear. Other times I just run away from reality and sneak into that spot I’ve found beneath the stairs.
But there’s a strange algebra at work. If I can catch my own tendency to compulsively reject “off” moments as unholy, I’m suddenly sitting on a hefty mound of holy. If I hold too high a standard on being “connected” then I risk being blind to the slivers of the good shiver.
And so today, almost feeling trapped in a house full of toddlers, I ran outside and they chased me and knocked me down and climbed all over me, their playful clawing so insistent and total that I let my guard down for a moment and snuck into the palace the sentry usually protects. So grand and spacious that chamber!
I remember when my ninety-eight-year-old grandfather died a few years ago, I was so busy worrying about my eulogy and my toddler son’s aversion to formality that I almost went through the whole service without really connecting to what was happening around me. But then it hit me in the bathroom, Rio on my hip, notes in my pocket; grief grabbed my neck and suddenly the tears came. My son asked, “Papa, why are you crying?” and I just said, “Because I loved him.” The way I felt it then — marrow deep — is life’s elusive, ephemeral gift.