11 May 2018

Small Thoughts

To my left, somewhere past the low tree line and the exit for DeLisle, is the Gulf of Mexico.  Ahead and to the right, the sun is slipping low over saturated fields that border the marsh.  The highway stretches ahead in gentle curves, a winding panamorama beneath striated skies of peach and pumice.  Diamondhead is just a stone’s throw away, while New Orleans waits approximately fifty-six miles ahead.  Home is a day’s distance behind.

On the stereo, Tom Petty’s song about Mary Jane’s Last Dance gives way to Metallica’s proclamation that Nothing Else Matters, and I watch the mile markers along the pavement count down toward the state line.

It’s one of those rare evenings that hold my attention.  I’m soaking it in, something which, as of late, has not been easy for me.  Yet now, caught between the beauty of a dying day and the dawning of an unknown adventure just around the bend, I live for a few hours in the present moment- blissfully amnesiac to past battles and future mysteries, losing myself and forgetting, in the vast space of these southern swamplands, my own private mountains.

I feel the difference.
“Stay here,” I whisper to myself.  “Stay.”

 It’s a prayer.

Over a matter of miles, virgin fields give way to yawning spans of rice paddies and crayfish farms, the waterways of which mirror the yellow sky.  Reflections cast a stunning double image, interrupted only only by the red traps interspersed amongst golden fronds of saltwater grasses.  My boots, still carrying the dust of North Carolina, rest on the dash.  An anchor of a man sits behind the wheel, relaxed and easy, a hand on my knee.  Behind me sits a wealth of knowledge and wit in the form of a tween boy, excitedly pointing out this sight and that sign, before burying himself once again in the world of electronic entertainment and dog-eared books on all that is weird but true.  Beside him, my fourteen-month-old heart briefly sleeps, already a stronger and wilder thing than her mother has yet to become.

What is it about these moments, I wonder?  These seemingly insignificant moments that reveal so much through their simplicity and their stillness.  I realize that as an artist, I tend to view and feel the world to a more intense degree than most, but I find more of myself, more peace and more purpose in the notes of music, in lyrics, in poetry, art, scenery, laughter, flavors and scents, bare feet and blue water and the softness of clean sheets, than I do in the mirror or the safe but stressful “normalcy” of daily life.  So often I swim in seas of overwhelm, of anxiety, worry, or even anger; but, never in these vibrant but unvarnished seconds.  Never when I open my eyes to the gift that is my breath, my small space in this world, and the circle of souls around me.  Never when I’m paying attention to the “little” things.... the shift in the light, the sound of the leaves, the sheer multitude of dots on a map or stars in the sky...  These seemingly small details sink in and I’m full of gratitude, the tightness in me more of a healthy swelling of heart tissue than a suffocating grip on my lungs. These moments teach me that here, between the mortal milestones- literal and metaphorical mile markers, is life, and here is all I have, and here is all I need.

“Stay.”

Learning to exist only in the present moment has always been and will likely always be one of my most difficult challenges. To find the gold in the gravel, to give myself hundreds if not thousands of second chances with complete love for who I am on this day, because of who I was and what I’ve learned, and with faith in all that I’m becoming.  I feel the unevenness of the road beneath me as the cosmos shift above and know that I’m on more than one kind of journey.

Transience is the heartbreaking spine of our existence and yet is the freedom therein as well. I have closed enough doors, finished enough races, ended enough chapters and said goodbye to too many people to take for granted the fact that tomorrow isn’t a promise. Perhaps what gives the small moments so much meaning is the immediate realization that they are fleeting. It can be easy to forget in the day to day rhythm of commutes, conversations, stresses, situations, that life won’t always be like this. We feel eternal at best and stuck at worst, as if nothing is going to change. It becomes easy to stop seeing the sunrise as something miraculous. In five years, I’ll be a stranger to the woman that I am today. Life will be different- more souls will have entered and others will have fallen away. Battles will be over, new wars begun. Words will have been said or written, silver soldered, other things broken, mended, or left behind. Control doesn’t exist in tomorrow, or yesterday, and so much of what makes the minutiae beautiful is that it, too, lies outside of our dictation, orchestrated instead by invisible albeit far stronger, more capable hands. Geese in perfect formation announcing their flight. The breeze brushing lace curtains across a worn wooden table warmed by the sun. I cling tightly to these ephemeral times as they are the constistent glimmers of magic in a life that can seem at times too sterile, too structured by money and mainstream media. I cling to them because they ground me in The Now, rather than allowing me to be swept backwards in time by Sadness or forwards in time by Worry. They anchor me. Seeing them as gifts, presents, keeps me in the present. This, then, works to ease my anxious energies.

At least, it does for tonight.

I close my eyes, open all my senses, and stay. This life, in this car, with these people, right now- this is my world. Deeper than deadlines, worth more than the bills needing to be paid. Stay. Windows down, the pavement rushing by, laughter from the backseat that in turn is bubbling up from the dry depths of me, and the moon rising lightly above the horizon, smiling a sliver of a smile at this restless soul so often scattered, but finding its compass. 

8 comments:

  1. Moments of "now." So very precious and special.

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    1. Yes.....
      Thank you for being here, Sybil.

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  2. I'm glad I took the time to read this - it's beautiful.

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    1. Thank you so much for being here and for the kind words.

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  3. A heart-ful post about what is really real!! Thank you, JJ.

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    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read!

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  4. I have several chronic illnesses. Which mean a lot of chronic pain.

    One thing this has taught me is to revel in the moments like you describe. To live fully focused in those times that matter. Dappled sunlight on the late-summer lake, before the bustle of fall / holidays begins. Twilight and a fiery sunset at a good friend’s house. Watching deer on the lawn.

    Those are the times I cherish. ❤️

    Thank you for (so beautifully) sharing.

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    1. Oh, Jill. <3 Thank you so much for being here and sharing your own small moments.

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