(We know the day we were born, but most of us do not know the day we will die. This love letter to my life is written on the day I've designated as my death day: the 17th of every month, and reminds me to be grateful for my joy-filled life. Once a year I get to celebrate both my birth and death days on the same day.)
This week as I left Julian for the five-hour drive to Santa Barbara, I reviewed my newly loaded audio books to see which would be my companion on the drive. I passed by the I-should-learn-this tomes and clicked on Miracle and Wonder, Conversations with Paul Simon, which sounded like fun.
These conversations focused on Simon’s creative process and the specifics behind the development of some of his most memorable songs. Soon, I was buzzing with delight, coming alive in a Just for Joy moment which had no real purpose, outcome, or expectation. However I was transported, energized, and held in the grip of music and story from an artist I have grown up and old with, a remarkable artist who has invented and reinvented himself for six decades.
For some reason, the word confluence came to mind. When two or more rivers come together, it’s called a confluence. Sometimes life is like that; things flowing together from different places, emerging into one. Heraclitus said you can’t step twice into the same river, wisely observing that the river is always flowing and you are always changing; therefore, it’s not even the same you who’s stepping into the not-same river.
For the past 15 years since Richard died, I’ve traveled in a fast-moving river through isolated, high canyon walls. I’ve seen a lot, done a lot, learned a lot, following the rapid flow of gravity. Now I seem to be merging into a meandering stream, spreading across a flat plain, drifting below leafy cottonwoods, joining new waters.
As I reinvent myself in this different pace and time, my body feels like it is pulsing, adapting in waves: advancing then pulling back as new meets old; old trying to stay contained, hold its shape, while new whispers invitations and swirls diaphanous, inviting patterns that pull me forward. It's almost like a three-dimensional chess game played by an unseen hand … one old friendship moves to a higher level while a different one is removed from play. An improbable square opens up, revealing a path to a new, possibly game-changing direction while the river behind me turns down a different canyon.
I’m not sure where this confluence of rivers is taking me but I am grateful for the journey. I’ve never felt in control of my destiny and feel no need to try now. There may be rapids in my future … or I might wind up on a beautiful, sandy beach … or both … or something completely unimagined.
As 2021 winds down, I want to follow my own internal music, being in harmony and grateful for everything that comes my way, for all that I learn and create, for all the people I connect with, and all the ways I share what I’ve picked up along the way. I want to do more joyful things, feel more joy, share more joy, and help this beleaguered world heal its divisions by nurturing the joy surrounding us.
All of this brought me to my aspiration for 2022:
Just for Joy.
We are just specks on a speck,
yet each of us specks on this speck
is a unique, one-of-a-kind original.
Presumably, living beings on other specks
are also original and one-of-a-kind.
Therefore, each of us right here, right now
is an original, never-before-here and never-to-reappear
entity in the endless Universe of specks on specks.
So go forth then and enjoy your one life,
be kind to the unique specks around you
and let joy light up every day
of your life.