It is January 5, 2019, the 54th anniversary of my birth. It is a New Moon, and also a solar eclipse. The year is four days new and counting. Two days hence will be the 8th anniversary of my father’s passing. These are like coordinates to help us locate the day on a map, but what do they really tell us about the day, about this unique and timeless moment? To know that, we must put down the map and references, and we must put down the clutter of thoughts in our head about past and future, and just open, notice. If your surrounds are familiar, it may seem like any other moment. And in its timeless origins, it is. But to experience it, we must first allow and include every subtle quality that makes this day, this moment, its own: the light of this day’s angle of the sun, as it filters through the echoes of yesterday’s business, the subtle smells of today’s breakfast, and the nutrients of yesterday’s lunch beating your heart.
By year’s end, we can hardly remember all the moments that made up the preceding year. We might recall a few pivotal moments, a few impressive experiences, probably because those were the ones that stopped time long enough to place a bookmark or significantly swivel our trajectory.
We partake of top ten lists about the favorite or most significant pop culture creations or events. But how often do we just get still and ask our inner selves to recall the moments that quietly linger distinct in our consciousness without ceremony or apparent import? Impressions that stay with us, like the fabric of a seat cushion after the rest of the room as faded? These moments cling to the contours of our deeper selves, reassure us of our essence, of our innocence, which hovers diaphanous in a deeper, quieter place.
My birthday tradition is to travel to an upscale hot spring that gives a free day pass on one’s birthday. I soak all day, gratefully, and remember who I am as the torsions of this constitution loosen their grip on bones and soul.
Today, however, I have the flu. So I soak only in my own juices today. I let go of the day’s plan more easily than I might have expected. Nothing to do now but rest–sleep, drink, pee, repeat–and float in the heightened sensations, occasionally composing a little rhyme upon the rhythm of the body’s throbbing. It is curiously comforting to drop into the simple witness and observe the miraculous immune system run through its paces. In the center of all the sensation looms the one I Am, when all doing falls away.
It is a returning.
Sitting up in bed a while, after 14 hours horizontal, I have a little time on my hands, but I have in my gauzy mind no complete and polished Top 10 retrospective for 2018 to set forth. Mine is an amalgam of a trillion subtle and powerful moments, like atoms in the ring of a tree or a layer of sediment, the most memorable of which all probably share one feature: they brought me home to my Self.
An incomplete list of these would include the following, which can be found on the World Wide Web:
Song: “Nina Cried Power” (Hozier)
Radio: Generally the On Being podcast; specifically the rebroadcast of Krista’s interview with Poet/philosopher David Whyte.
I know there were so many more. But I’m onto this new year now.
I am revisiting The Presence Process (Michael Brown), and it is a profound and affirming homecoming. When I originally reviewed it for a magazine (about 14 years ago), I called it one of the most important books of the century so far; an impressively lucid gift. A strong statement, maybe, and I understand it is not for everyone; but for me it carries the song of my home star and emboldens my own true song.
I leave space now for all those moments in the sediment of my experience for which I give thanks but can no longer give name.
And I leave space for you and your thanks with them.
Bless us every one.