“A world which increasingly consists of destinations without journeys between them, a world which values only “getting somewhere” as fast as possible, becomes a world without substance. One can get anywhere and everywhere, and yet the more this is possible, the less is anywhere and everywhere worth getting to. For points of arrival are too abstract, too Euclidean to be enjoyed, and it is all very much like eating the precise ends of a banana without getting what lies in between. The point, therefore, of these arts is the doing of them rather than the accomplishments. But, more than this, the real joy of them lies in what turns up unintentionally in the course of practice, just as the joy of travel is not merely so much in getting where one wants to go as in the unsought surprises which occur on the journey.” Alan Watts – The Way of Zen
What do I remember of the happenings, the “accomplished” journeys, the substance of my summer thus far? The bits and pieces of unexpected delight and outright shock grab at my heart. The fireflies in the dark as I sat with my daughter while camping, sitting by a fire fading and watching the lights of nature take over. Moon overhead, blinking flashes of yellow in the depths around us, past the water whispering into woods. One son fishing with his granddad. Another son conquering the space between lake shore and dock. The dive into a lake not felt for 30 years with a body changed in ways surreal. The moss by the stream and the kids standing on a log…
We got there and my dad had set up the tents. The same man who had his hip replaced in March. I had told him to wait for my arrival. We barely made camp before nightfall. And then the rain fell an unexpected deluge clamoring thundering torrential pound supreme. It washed us clean in seconds. My parents were holed up in their tent and my sons were huddled in ours while my daughter and I scrambled around for a tarp, unfolding it over the top of our tent, the song of pelting drops hitting blue-shocked shelter past leaves shaking. My heart took in a great gulp of water-laden oxygen and waited. How would my kids respond? I could only laugh. It was too amazing not to laugh. We clipped and secured and tied down and then joined the boys. After moving everything as far away from tent walls as we could manage and settling into rest under covers, it hit me that not a single complaint had landed in the fall of rain. Giggles, gasps, and a few shocked outbursts. I was sighing into rest when one of my children piped up (with echoing agreements all around), “Mom, this is SO GREAT!” I could barely hear in the downpour, but the thrill was clearly fed by rain’s adventure. The challenge, the work of adjusting to nature’s indifference had enlivened my kids. And me. I would rather not say “we went camping this summer” but…”the rain fell…and…well…wow.” And “the lake water cold and shocking was sheer delight…” The moth was huge…
We lugged pails of water and had to trek to a “bathroom” and the bugs made it clear we were not native. And then my mom’s stroke. And what stands out? We laughed together over her medical forms as I filled them out. She cracked jokes about her vision and told me she didn’t cry when the news hit because she was afraid it would upset us. Ah, and I had swallowed huge chunks of sobs for the same reason. I love how we looked out for each other. The long healing talk, the one I have wanted to have for years now. One that only “disaster” births. And it sunk to my core, one more time, just how precious it all is, whether we’re all in agreement or not. How vital it is to find even just a bit of space, a place to camp out in love and in spite of the differences, the changes. Whether it rains or not, whether we ever find as much common ground again or not.
And a wedding. Even the damn fuses blowing and blowing and telling me to respect limits. And the winding wonder ride up hills so high we felt like we were flying. And the surprise of not recognizing a cousin and not just any cousin but the one you always wanted to see, the joy of dancing with my oldest son who refuses to dance but, to my amazement, allowed his mom to sweep him along and into a bit of jive. My youngest son standing in tux while sun shines on red hair, and the radiance of a bride.
A whirlwind of surprises punctuating plans and reminding me how “fate” brings people together more surely than the best of intentions. A fate designed by … by what? By whom? Me? Just when I’m certain I co-create, chaos takes me for a ride, daring me to laugh, to improvise. A day trip to a beach I’d never seen to find a woman in the waves I’d not seen in years ‘though we visit the same town everyday and ‘though she seldom goes to this same vacation spot. A hug of shock and then the talk as salt water tosses us around. Why did that bless me so much? I will likely never see her again unless I go somewhere I’ve not gone before. Sitting at a concert with a dear friend last night, one whose path crossed my own via a series of accidents and not all of them happy. What do I remember? Not the music – ‘though I enjoyed it – but the fact that we sat at a spot that seemed to invite a domino effect of mischief. A man getting up to leave, his camp chair strap deciding to break right then and there as he retreats and BAM on my head. (Laughter) In less than 5 seconds, a woman’s hair clasp falls to the ground at my feet, begging the question of an invisible imp as I try to retrieve it and it travels beyond my reach. The song heard and sung on the way home, not the ones at the concert. A surprise hug on the couch I’ve “rented” here and there (carrot bread as payment). The crazy college guy begging two total strangers (my friend and me) to please give him a kiss. An intersection and an ambulance calling, streetlights and headlights converging while a kiss or two renews innocence where paths cross. It’s a landscape of surprises feeding soul. All of it while the best intentions, the plans and even the wisest choices crumble around me, destinations changed, journeys altered and life breathing surprise into my “future as a sensible concept,” blasting some of those concepts into tiny bits of flimsy reason and then gone, woven into a tapestry made rich by a hand unseen. And. The gold shines brightest where life unfolds a sometimes shocking challenge to dive in and thrive…
9 thoughts on “Not At All Sensible…”
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wow, how kind… will check it out. oxo…
This sounds like an awesome experience
it was…and is every time i go back in my mind.
“The gold shines brightest where life unfolds a sometimes shocking challenge to dive in and thrive…”
May be the most beautiful sentance I’ve ever read.
oxo… delighted to see you’ve started up your new digs!! i’m going to have to add the link. :0)
and that is life, isn’t it? beyond beautiful… oxo…