At the shoreline that is early morning, the threshold of consciousness, I am dimly aware of what has been, of a dull ache, of sharp disappointment, of fear, of the uncertainty of the future. Just before the wave crests, a short vivid film—a long cold night of the soul, loneliness, the burying of more than a few dreams in hard cold ground. The wave breaks, and for a moment I weep. Then I breathe deeply. All but the present slips away. I savor the softness of my pillow, the cool air coming through the open window, the leaves rustling in the trees, the warmth of my blanket. Then the surprise of cool hands on my sore feet, then on the small of my back, and the contrast between pain and sweet pleasure is enormous, intense. Without the discomfort, the comfort would not be. A scratch cannot satisfy in the absence of an itch, this I have learned.
Little changed in those few moments but my view of the landscape. It’s a view somewhat new to me, one that includes an acceptance of all that is, a knowing that we can tolerate that which we fear, that which is unpleasant. And in this moment, the surprise is that the pleasant outweighs the unpleasant once again. It’s true, much of the plot once brimming with the energy of new life and certainty is now devoid of life, empty, parched bare soil… but along the edges and in patches throughout I see bright fresh new shoots, blossoms that thrive on much less, life of a different sort, dreams much smaller, but vivid splashes of color nonetheless.
Color and warmth and touch give way to aroma: fresh coffee brewing. A new day. I will stop often to bring myself out of the past or the future and back to the present, out of my thoughts and into all my senses. I do it more easily now than I used to, for which I am grateful. It is one of the gifts of having come face-to-face with my mortality.