An unconventional poem –
“Let’s get outta here,” adventure cries, her scattered little soul dancing at the thought of new cities, new sights, new soil, keeping time with the waltz of her feet — feet which have long since resigned to the familiar fatigue which exists only to one who chooses to recognize the similarities between ‘lost’ and ‘found,’ rather than the differences.
“But remember that time…” nostalgia counters, her heavy heart blessed with the burden of memories — family dinners around that mahogany table, summers of ( mostly unrequited ) love & flirting with sunlight as it seeped through the soft greens of that bike path, days of too-rash treks to small-but-mighty towns, nights of too-short time with old-but-treasured friends. She lives to knock you to your knees, whispering sweet nothings of how she ‘just can’t get on without you.’
“Just be here,” the present chimes in, her tread so light she often goes unnoticed until after she’s slipped away — but my God, is she refreshing.
“Let me work my magic,” she breathes — her very words a gentle squeeze of feeble hands, soft kisses on bare shoulders.
the haze lifts, if only for a moment.
Nostalgia rests easy in the realization that the present has no desire to undermine her old friend’s worth.
Adventure, too, sighs in relief, recognizing that the present could actually be a lovely dance partner.
And you —
You, my love, are free.
To be here,
to be now,
to fall in love with moments instead of expectations,
to rub elbows with today,
to be p r e s e n t .
A little while ago, I found myself caught in a rainstorm as I was taking a fairly short walk. It wasn’t anything unbearable, and I’d actually remembered my umbrella on this particular day, so there really was nothing about which to complain. Yet, out of nowhere, the ominous clouds seemed to part, giving way to a huge expanse of sunshine. And immediately, I took down my little umbrella and began to soak it all in — the sweet warmth, the soft rays, the rich light. It was just one of those simple moments where everything seems to be right with the world.
However, about a minute later, once I had tucked my umbrella safely back into my bag, there was a sudden downpour. The light that I had just been celebrating was now gone, and a new onslaught of grey had been ushered in. It was unexpected; it was out of nowhere; it was torrential. And yes, it was right at the moment when my umbrella was no longer within easy reach.
Of course, I was able to reach for the umbrella within a matter of moments, but by that point, it was almost futile. The damage had been done. I had let down my guard and fallen for the sun’s charm — and now I was paying the price.
Later in the day, a similar sequence of events occurred: the dismal downpour followed by an uncannily immediate dawning of sunshine. Yet, this time, I was certain not to take down my umbrella. I had learned my lesson, and I had learned it well.
However, this time around, the rain never returned. So, there I stood, clutching my umbrella in preparation for a rain that never came. Instead of “protecting myself,” I was merely missing out on some beautiful moments of sunlight.
And how often does this happen to us in life? We find ourselves in situations or relationships where we let our guards down, where we become vulnerable, where we set ourselves totally and completely free, and then someone takes advantage of us. The “umbrella” has been placed safely back in the knapsack, and the “downpour” has been unleashed.
Thus, it seems that when future opportunities to let our guards down present themselves, we become uneasy at the thought of it. We remember what happened last time, and we will most assuredly never let such a thing happen again. So there we stand, clutching the umbrella.
And while this preventative, protective approach makes sense, do we ever think about the potential “sunlight” that we’re missing out on in the process? It’s alright to approach these new situations with a tendency toward hesitance, but if we block them out completely, how on earth will we ever know what we’re missing?
Being vulnerable can be scary — yes. It can be risky & daunting & uncomfortable. But it is in these very moments that I have found the sun does some of its warmest shining.
This past weekend, I went to Long Island with my friend from school who lives there. It was quite the weekend — from sitting by the ocean wrapped in heaps & heaps of blankets to consuming copious amounts of Long Island bagels to venturing out on snow-covered docks to driving along winding roads with the Avett Brothers playing softly in the background to visiting Oheka Castle [a.k.a. Jay Gatsby’s mansion in the latest Great Gatsby film] — we did it all. And friends, before I say anything else, I must highly recommend heading to Long Island at some point in your life.
But anyway, as it often goes with exciting new things & exciting new places, you take an abundance of photos. It’s the natural reaction; we want to share our adventures with the world because we simply can’t keep them all to ourselves. And in this day & age, we have the advantageous opportunity to snap as many pictures as our little hearts desire, a simple click (or perhaps 20) and we can be immediately certain that we have the moment captured.
Yet, just this past Christmas I received an instant polaroid camera. You know, the kind where you take the picture & it pops right out of the camera & then you proceed to wait anxiously for it to develop. It’s always a surprise because even if you feel as though you got just the shot you were pining for, you can never be totally sure until the developing process is complete.
But this camera has done much more than teach me the element of surprise or the lost art of patience. In essence, it has made me discover what discretion is really all about. After all, film for this camera comes in packages of ten that cost about twenty dollars, essentially making it like paying 2$ a photo — they don’t come cheap! But it has turned out to be the most beautiful thing.
No longer do you take photos “just because.” Rather, you take them only when they are truly meaningful, when you are experiencing something that you feel must be forever captured, forever ingrained in the record books. And then, since you can’t spend the entire time taking photos, you can actually be totally present in the moment at hand. Imagine that!
Such is the case with many things in life, it seems. We overdo it, go overboard, overindulge, wring it out until it has nothing left to give — until nothing is really special or unique because we have a million like it or have done it a million times before.
There is great elegance in simplicity; there is great allure in discretion; there is great truth in the minimal, for within the minimal often rests the meaningful, the substantial, the worthwhile, the things for which we stay alive.