a daytime moon: sure to flood me with emotion, awareness, reverence
Thursday last week was cold and crystal clear, the sky the saturated blue that most makes my heart ache. I was driving home from some meetings mid-afternoon and as I waited to turn onto a familiar street in my town, I watched the blue pickup truck that was waiting, perpendicular to me. My blinker clicked as I noticed the driver, who was yawning, and his passenger, who was wearing a thick wool mitten on one hand and navigating the smart phone that she stared into with the other. I turned past them onto a street that each fall has the most spectacular orange leaves and was hit by a wave of something – an inchoate emotion, somewhere between powerful gratitude and powerless awe – so strong I had to pull over.
Does this happen to you, this sense of being overwhelmed by this world, this life, this right now? It’s as though an aperture inside my spirit yawned open and was overcome by what it saw, by the brilliance and the brutality, an onrush of wonder so extraordinary it had to snap shut, unable to take any more. I sat in my car pulled over on the street, my eyes swimming with tears, slightly out of breath as I stared around me. I’ve looked at these fences a million times, these houses whose owners are as foreign as the permutations of their hydrangeas and particular shapes of their cornices are familiar.
This is my life.
This, right here. It is such an outrageous miracle, human life, this planet we walk on, these days we fill with activity. Sometimes I wonder if other people have this same experience of skinlessness, this sensation of being literally stunned by the fact of life itself. I suspect they do. They must. The very fact that we are born and grow and build families and careers and lives is a breathtaking marvel. We are microscopic ants on the surface of this great turning ball, whose existence it itself a miracle that renders me inarticulate as I try to comprehend it. And even though we are so small, we are granted glimpses of the universe that yawns, cavernous, all around us.
I don’t know why this happened last Thursday afternoon, what combination of environment and personal and physiological factors combined so that the man in the pickup and his companion and the leaves and the sky and the cold air on my face startled me, like foil being shaken in my eyes. I do know this happens to me a lot, with varying degrees of intensity, this slicing realization of the wonder of it all. The frequency with which I’m brought to tears is one manifestation of the phenomenon, as is, I suspect, my propensity to trip because I’m staring wide-eyed at the sky instead of at the ground in front of me.
When I got home I opened the door onto the noisy chaos of after school, homework being protested and hockey gear being thrown around and dinner being reheated in the microwave. I kissed Grace and Whit hello and asked about their days and then retreated to my office, where I shut the door and sat looking out the window at the pink-tinged sky, trying to settle my racing heart before my next work call. These reminders of how extraordinary this life is leave me fragile, shaken, more porous than usual. But I would never choose not to have them. They are the streaks of silver that shimmer in the fabric of my life, glinting in certain lights, almost imperceptible in others, but I always know they are there.
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