Maybe We'll Know What We Meant When We're Dead: Everyday Magic, Day 231

Yesterday was extraordinarily charged in a quirky, painful and tender way. Within several hours, I stumbled into an unexpected heartbreak, punctuated by a media interview for Poet Laureati, a bevy of criss-crossed and tangled emails about an event months away, payment processing for the event, and deep talks with two friends while bumbling around downtown Lawrence. By the time I landed home with the kids, I was feeling particularly baffled about what I’m doing in life.

But the universe seems to not just fill all voids but overwhelm bafflement with wonder. A friend called to let me know that someone who took a writing workshop with me years ago remembered that class as vital to her eventually finding her way out of severe poverty and cycles of self-destruction. She’s now in med school.

I often tell Ken that I don’t believe we can tell the value of what we’re doing and how we’re living until after we’re dead, and believe me, from the other side of this life, I hope to have a long look at what it all meant. One of the sweetnesses of life is that we can’t see the whole view while standing in the center of it. In the meantime, I’m grateful for the angels who bring us glimpses that sometimes the pebbles we drop in the water make a difference to the shore.

Thanksgiving, Time & Gratitude: Everyday Magic, Days 129-130

Having just about come to the end of this holiday, I’m thinking about gratitude and time. As time goes on, what I’m grateful for increases, and gratitude lives within the context of time: all we love changes all the time.

What I mean by this is that there’s great forces of life, love, motion, age and change happening constantly, and when I can expand my vision beyond my normal churning thoughts (e.g. will everyone I love be okay, am I good enough, am I living right, and who do I pray to when I need a parking space?), I can connect with how grateful I am to alive.

Case in point: sitting in the living room at my mother-in-law’s after the big meal, about 13 of us easilyy tossing each other some humor like it was a balloon. There were some almost awkward silences, but there no one much tried to fill the gap with television or other distractions. We all just kept hanging out, talking about whatever came up, even if it it was just our favorite TV show. I couldn’t help thinking about my father-in-law, gone not quite two years, and how his absence may be helping us appreciate one another more because we all know how tenuous life can be. In the corner, I glimpsed my niece napping, curled up around her mother; my son talking into the ipad and making it turn his voice into Alvin and the Chimpmonks; my mother-in-law smiling even when she couldn’t hear everything; and the cold sky outside shining in through the windows my sister-in-law recently cleaned.

Just an hour ago, Ken came in and said he had a moment coming upstairs from the basement when he saw how everything we live is something we create together, a kind of construct that seems so sturdy and yet is fragile. It makes me think of the poem in the film Wings of Desire, that asks, “Why am I me and not you?” We land places, take root or migrate elsewhere, make lives that seem all-encompassing. Sturdy and fragile because of time. Beautiful and alive nevertheless.