This morning I received two text messages: One came from my wife notifying me that a friend of ours had delivered her baby. The second one came from a best friend notifying me that his mom had passed away.
As I often do, I have been trying to find some understanding about the events and how they are connected and how they are distinct. I have discovered many obvious distinctions: One family is preparing to welcome a new member into the fold. They are cleaning and smiling and eating in anticipation of their lives changing in many wonderfully unknown ways. At the exact same time, another family is mourning and with the sleepless eyes of grief trying to imagine life without their loved one in it any more. Here, the contrast between events is clear.
What is similar is that life will never be the same for either family. Yesterday was the last day of “before…”. Life is changed and will be changed forever. We cannot go back to before.
Reflecting on these things as another summer wanes into autumn, I feel grateful to be passing my time with the people in my life. I don’t have many things, but I have many friends. My life is rich with characters. Unique, caring, funny and generous oddballs surround me always. They give my life its color. They validate my choices; the good ones… and the bad ones. Laughter is healing magic and we laugh a lot. In this way, we heal each other. Friends and family are the most valuable assets anyone can have.
As I sit looking out my living room window to the waters of my youth contemplating the day’s events, I have no clear answers. Life is a miracle of contradictions. It confronts and confounds and makes no sense and perfect sense in the same breath.
A single geometric insight stands alone as a vital understanding. It is this: The whole “circle of life” thing is garbage. Life is not a circle. It is a line; an often shaky, uncertain and spastic line leading us from the cradle to the grave. We do not return back to where we started from. (With the possible exception of needing diapers and if/when this happens to me my son is firmly secured as “wipe-boy”. He knows this and is not thrilled.) Time that passes is gone. Life travels in one direction only. This thought does not dishearten me. It inspires me. It slaps me in the face with the certain awareness that my own opportunities to enjoy my life are limited to the time I have left. Whatever the hell that is. And I would be a fool to waste a moment of it.
With this in mind, if it starts to rain today, I will simply turn my palms up, tip my head to the sky, and dance in the mud. There is nothing to gain and everything to lose by doing something else.
[EDITOR'S NOTE:"Feel Good Friday" is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who extols to all neighbors: "Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!" Also, you can "friend" Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]