Where Are We Going?
It is Wednesday and we have rain. Sweet, melodious-sounding, cold, and desperately-needed rain.
Thank you, Jesus.
Southern California can be a strange place to live. I realize this when I notice how excited I get when the forecast calls for rain – a novelty of nature that I regrettably took for granted while living in Florida for fifteen years. For to me, there really is not much else that makes my heart feel a little more alive and warm with good feelings than a steady rain-shower on a sleepy weekday. To some people that may sound entirely stupid and weird. I mean…who likes rain and gray, gloomy days, and the way it feels to step outside and not know how you will stay dry?
This girl. This girl likes it.
And she’s not ashamed.
To appropriately take advantage of said rain, I treated myself to a fancy tea from the Coffee Bean down the street this afternoon and nursed it in my lap as I sat in my car to steal away some time to savor the quiet and survey the swirls of silvery storm clouds that swallowed up the mid-day sky. While I did this, I thought about how a lot of people always seem to be on-the-go. “On-the-go” as in – perpetually and hurriedly going somewhere – all of the time. Rarely does it seem like some people are not in a hurry to get going onto the next thing. And I get it. Life is fast-paced. It’s not easy to keep up. I struggle with it, too. Immensely. (Thanks, anxiety!) But I think it is worth it to simply sit and ask ourselves every now and then: where are we going? Where are we going in those moments? Are we thinking about every minute, hour, and part of each day that we rush through with reverence and awe and gratitude? Or with disdain and frustration and resentment for the other things (realized or imagined) that they are keeping us from?
The true answer is not the answer that I like. I am aware that my terrible, no-good, rotten, and most wretched of days would not be so bad if I learned to abide in the moment more. Abide in love and relationships and nature and the simple truth that I am here on earth as a living, breathing, loving, and vastly complex human with secrets and scars and silly stories from a childhood spent barefoot in a backyard in Florida. Because at this point in adulthood, I can’t say that I have learned much just yet but I have learned that how we savor the here and the now, the present moment that we inhabit, will not only affect the moment itself but how we look back upon and remember the moments in the future. Like how I can look back on my childhood and remember summers spent running through the cold hose water being spit out by the backyard sprinklers in the hot glow of July. And the way it felt to watch the sunset from one of the many tree-forts my brothers and I built with rusty nails and old wood. I remember those things with great gratitude and a mental clarity that I recognize exists because they were present in my spirit as a child…running barefoot through the thick blades of grass in a baby blue bathing suit – I was full of wonder and thankfulness because I had learned, as many children do, how to be content with very little and not worry so much about what will happen next.
May it be that I re-learn this now as an adult. Even when the moment scares me and I’m not sure about anything. Because if I can simply put one foot in front of the other, I don’t have to know where I am going. Just that I’m here right now – present and in place for whatever comes next, or whatever doesn’t.
Life is a lot more beautiful when we live it that way. Abiding in what is here right now. When we can learn to do this, I think we can find a peace about all of the other things and expectations of things to come that we will eventually realize maybe weren’t so important after all. And therein lies the freedom we deserve to enjoy. On this day, in this hour, and in this one preciously imperfect moment.
“How can one person be more real than any other? Well, some people do hide and others seek. Maybe those who are in hiding – escaping encounters, avoiding surprises, protecting their property, ignoring their fantasies, restricting their feelings, sitting out the pan-pipe hootchy-kootch of experience – maybe those people, people who won’t talk to rednecks, or if they’re rednecks won’t talk to intellectuals, people who’re afraid to get their shoes muddy or their noses wet, afraid to eat what they crave, afraid to drink Mexican water, afraid to bet a long shot to win, afraid to hitch-hike, jaywalk, honky-tonk, cogitate, osculate, levitate, rock it, bop it, sock it, or bark at the moon, maybe such people are simply inauthentic, and maybe the jackleg humanist who says differently is due to have his tongue fried on the hot slabs of liar’s Hell. Some folks hide, and some folks seek, and seeking, when it’s mindless, neurotic, desperate, or pusillanimous can be a form of hiding. But there are folks who want to know and aren’t afraid to look and won’t turn tail should they find it – and if they never do, they’ll have a good time anyway, because nothing, neither the terrible truth nor the absence of it, is going to cheat them out of one honest breath of the earth’s sweet gas.”
– Tom Robbins, Still Life With Woodpecker
March 13, 2015