Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sometimes, it just doesn’t get any better.

It’s the small things that get me. I realize that most people’s best days are the ones that are full of people – weddings, births, engagements, etc., but that’s never really been my style. I realize what that says about me, and I’m okay with it. There are a couple days that I do remember that included my friends and are among my most memorable, but the times that stick out most for me, with the best feeling attached, are the ones where I am alone.
Right now, for instance. The fire is going out and I can hear the rain on the roof – it’s been coming down all day. I’m not usually a fan of rain, but it’s different in the mountains, when it’s not a normal occurrence. I’ve noticed that the pine needles take on a lighter hue – the color of sage – when they’re covered in raindrops. With the window open I can smell the pines, a faint tinge of smoke, and wet earth. I am not doing anything very important, simply sitting, working on what I want to work on, perusing the internet for information about writing, publishing, cookbooks and my friends. It’s heaven.
There are two other moments like this that have stopped to give me pause. One was on a German mountaintop where I spent the summer. I walked to the summit one early morning from the hut where I worked, and looked down on the clouds that covered the valley floor. The peaks were all snow-capped around me and the sun shone brightly, and I was only one of very few people who could see it, up here among the chamois and above the tree line. I sat, dangling my feet over oblivion, and just stared, a silly grin on my face.
The other time was coming up from a night dive on the Great Barrier Reef. I had snorkeled and dove during the day and the colors were amazing. The night dive was scary and I couldn’t get over the sound of my own breathing in my ears. I ran low on air early, and the dive master sent me to the surface. I should have been disappointed, but as I slowly emerged from the dark, I saw a huge golden orb above me, and found myself staring straight into the moon as it rose above the horizon. There was a sailboat in front of it, its skeletal outline glistening in the moonlight, and the water was warm and comforting around me. I realized that I was the luckiest person in the world, because I was here, and now, and there was no other place or time like this on earth that I would experience in quite this way again.
It’s easy to forget what a wonder life can be. We slog through our daily tasks, worried about our jobs, our friends, our families, our lives, what we don’t have, what we have too much of, and we forget. Sometimes the days run together and we don’t remember what brought us here in the first place, why we made the choices we did, why we haven’t made different plans. But sometimes – and unfortunately it’s just sometimes – all that other crap falls away and we can just sit, stark naked in ourselves, and remember what a wonder life can be. It’s at those moments that we realize that we have it all, and it doesn’t need to get any better.