Today I showed up.
I was there, in every waking moment from when the first beam of morning sunlight sliced through the darkness in my room until now, this evening, this moment, when I’m cradling the keyboard and writing it all down.
I was present and in every palpable “now” that time delivered, and I savored every second. I inhaled the experience of the moments and exhaled life, the way it should be, and I abandoned distractions for the first time in a long time. I read, I wrote, I ate, I drank, I was with myself and I was damn good company.
How it all started, I’m not quite sure. But I’m glad it did. Today was slated to be a lazy Saturday after a long work week. A day where I’d probably watch movies, swipe through my phone numerous times, maybe run an errand, and get caught up in distractions. But it didn’t turn out that way.
Today I stopped to notice life. I quieted down enough to eavesdrop on my thoughts and uncover their secrets and the machinations that make me tick from behind the scenes only to be reminded that the Great and Powerful Oz is just a balding, short stubby man pulling levers behind a thick, green curtain. I am as good as my last internal dialogue and yet the latest conversations within me about me have not been good…just loud, critical rants, making flaky promises, much like the Great and Powerful Oz.
But today took a turn toward clarity.
By 11 a.m., I was well on my way downtown to the bookstore. The bus was crowded and the conversations varied in volume and ranged from parents scolding fidgety, restless toddlers to affable Latina women chatting amongst themselves in Spanglish, comparing stories about their kids and Puerto Rican holiday recipes.
I like the bus and for this reason.
There are signs of organic life on NYC buses. I can’t say the same for our overcrowded, dreary subways, which are basically underground tunnels packed with a garden variety of zombies who scramble at the opportunity to not make eye contact with you. Anyway, the bus was humming with life and diversity. Old, young, black, white, tall, short, thin, fat people were riding the packed bus as on any day. We steadily made our way down 5th Avenue and through Sunset Park, then alongside Green-Wood Cemetery, passed South Slope, etc. The late morning sun was bright and slants of light shone through the windows, illuminating the passengers intermittently from stop to stop.
But I was there in the most empirical fashion possible.
I was taking it all in: the near and distant chatter, the clanking of the bus, the flat scent of Old Spice somewhere off to my left, the sound of the pages turning on the book of the woman in front of me.
I showed up, for all of it. Alive and in the moment, aware of all my surroundings, but most importantly, mindful of my experience of it all. I was just grateful. Grateful that I had the senses of sight, hearing, and touch…senses that connect me to strangers on a bus, making me part of the human experience. Things could be very different, but I was there instead..in that moment, alive, well, alert, able-bodied, and full of gratitude.
At some point, of course, the bus ride and my trip to the bookstore was over. But just reflecting on it all, I’d say my day was a series of thoughtful pauses. On frequent and occasional moments throughout the day, I’d be deliberate about absorbing the small wonders of existence.
Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. I don’t know if I’d go that far, but I’d say if I don’t examine the thoughts that make up my life and the moments that frame my existence, I’m not doing much living at all. So tomorrow I will be intentional. I will incline my ear to the sounds of life, cautious not to squander what we call ‘now’…