Sometimes the melodies in our soul harmonize with fate’s soundtrack and life abruptly makes perfect sense, if only for a moment. The feeling often wisps away faster than smoke through our fingers but if you pay attention, it leaves you changed. Like Narnia, the nature of this experience does not lend itself to being sought out. Frequently, looking for meaning gives us the back of life’s ordinary wardrobe. However, sometimes things are aligned right and the most ordinary of things can teach you about the greatest mystery of all – yourself.
The trick is to be ready.
You know this feeling. It’s the awareness of simply and purely being alive. You’re thrumming at a higher frequency than normal. Your problems still exist but they are thin threads in the fabric of your life rather than the entire pattern. The joys and sorrows of your past and the hopes and worries for the future weave together to create you, alive and aware in that fleeting moment, perfectly balanced between the two. You are wonderfully, magically present there in that moment and that is all that matters.
It’s the elusive feeling of enough. I know it when I see it because it is so different from how I normally feel.
I’m coming off a vacation week, so please suffer my insufferable relaxation for a moment and consider the outdoor shower. Leading up to our escape, I proclaimed that I would only shower outside for the entire length of our vacation. My 5 year-old, with a little exasperation (something that I expect to see more of in the coming years) asked me, “Why are you so excited for an outside shower? It’s just a shower.”
I briefly considered whether he was messing with me. It’s an outdoor shower, after all. What is there not to be excited about? I’m not actually sure why a beach house even bothers having an indoor shower. Some sort of zoning thing, I imagine.
I explained that it’s a place where you shower when you come off the beach and you’re covered with the detritus of a day well lived. It’s a symbol of vacation metamorphosis that is not unlike Superman’s phone booth except my Clark Kent is an over-stressed and under-slept maniac. Seeing the sky while I shower is an act of defiance that is unachievable with any other action and when I emerge, I am my vacation alter ego.
It was while taking my daily outdoor shower (true to my word) when my moment of harmony occurred. The first thing that occurred to me is that feelings of now like that are dangerous because if you pay attention to them, you’re challenged not only to wonder what triggered that moment but also why you don’t feel that way in the normal course of your life more often.
In this world of over information, we, to our detriment, ignore those things that cannot be boxed and shelved according to their places on the Internet. Within seconds, I can find out about almost anything. However, Google can’t tell me what I should be doing with my life. I can’t download an e-book on the feeling I get when I finish writing something that seems halfway competently executed. No one is going to text me a link to something that makes me feel the way I feel when I’m just present, doing nothing at all except breathing and being alive. No tweet can properly capture how I feel when my daughter laughs at my antics or my son gives me a hug.
Yet we spend so much more energy on other things. Other things have to get done, surely. Other things are important, but are they the most important? Are they important enough to warrant the disproportionate amount of energy and focus we dedicate to them even when we’re not doing those things? We close our ears to the music and move on with the bustle of our lives in a self-preservation misfire. The real difference is that many of the things that seem so pressing each day suck me in while the moment of harmony propels me forward.
That moment makes me want to read and write and be a good father and live a good life. It makes me want to breathe it all in and remember the sensations. It makes me want to be fully alive. I’m kinder to others. I can breathe twice as deeply in that moment. I’m 2 inches taller. I’m smarter. Calmer. Every hour of sleep I get counts as two. I can run faster. These things are all true, if not factual.
When the harmony comes and the flows of the universe and reality and humanity and all the other things we can’t understand align with you, you should pay attention. For you, maybe it comes when you take a breath of cool air at your campsite and know there isn’t another person around for miles. Or maybe it’s when the pain fades at the 11th mile. Or maybe it’s losing yourself in a book, a delicious meal, a long walk, the nighttime sky.
Regardless of how it comes to you, remember that like our lives, it is gone in a blink. Yet, also like our lives, that’s the beauty of it. That breath you just took is the only time you will ever take that breath. Whenever moments of harmony come and the rest of the hustle and bustle all fades away, the universe is playing a song for you. Make sure you pause to listen.