On Monday night, I watched part of Whit’s hockey practice. I stood at the end of the rink, watching him through the scuffed plexiglass (I can always identify him because he has red laces in his skates), and was overcome with a swell of contentment. Thornton Wilder’s words, which always remind me of Aidan, rose to my mind:
We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.
I’m not sure what it was about Monday evening that brought those words, or that feeling of awareness of my treasures, to mind. But I’ve learned enough not to question the moments that rise up, unbidden and unasked for, but to welcome them. I thought of my just 12 year old son, brand-new braces on his teeth, skating competently in front of me. I thought of our warm and safe house. I thought of our health and good fortune. I thought of Aidan, then, grateful for having met her in this wild and wonderful ether, all those years ago. Why precisely these words – from Wilder, whose Our Town speaks loudly to me – remind me of Aidan I’m not sure, but I’m glad they do. I texted her with cold fingers from the rink, and then put my phone back in my pocket.
As I stood and watched Whit shooting on goal, I thought of the perennial struggle that exists within me to be here now while I also watched, through a (in this case, literal) pane of clear material. I’m removed from and engaged in my life at the same time. I think it’s time to just let go of that struggle, to recognize that the tension that exists between those two poles is at the heart of the way I am in the world.
This is both the animating challenge of my life and the source of most of its color.
Maybe I’m inching towards the acceptance of those poles, which seem as opposed as do my two simultaneous ways of being in the world. That’s one of my treasures, no question. So are the family and health I noted, the dear friends (Aidan among them), words on the page and in the ether, the sky at dusk and at dawn, and so many other things. It’s absolutely true what Wilder says, that when I’m aware of my deep good fortune that I feel most alive.
The bell rang, Whit came off the ice, and, with a gesture that means “hurry up!” I went to go wait for him in the car. Conscious of my treasures, and fully alive, we drove home.
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