A Sunny Afternoon Earlier this Week …
All endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time.
It was an afternoon of balmy radiance, and I sat alone in the garden.
Well, I say alone but not quite. Close to my feet dozed a recumbent cat. Occasionally, a butterfly fluttered by silently, and the not-so-silent bees went busily about their business. Purposefully moving from one flower to another. Above me, a solitary seagull coasted on the warm currents. Sailing serenely across the clear azure.
A slight breeze occasionally gusted, sending a ripple through the leaves of the surrounding trees and bushes. The sound contrasted the continuous twinkle of water I could hear falling gently into the pond.
For lengthy periods I heard no extraneous sound. No voices. No road vehicles. No passing planes. Just the sounds of nature.
I sat reading ‘tuesdays with Morrie’ by Mitch Albom. My quiet setting was perfect as it offered no distraction to the contemplation of the story of the writer’s journey towards a redefinition of what he sought from life.
Earlier, I’d done some cleaning, some shopping, visited solicitors, paid fees, and continued a saga with the tax office (their systems seem the epitome of fragility). This and much other ‘important’ stuff fills our lives and brings us both our sense of achievement but also frustration, and worry.
When I came across the following words in the book, spoken by its hero, they made sitting in the garden the most important thing I would do that day,
“It’s what everybody worries about, isn’t it? What if today were my last day on earth? …. the culture doesn’t encourage you to think about such things until you’re about to die. We’re so wrapped up with egotistical things, career, family, having enough money, meeting the mortgage, getting a new car, fixing the radiator when it breaks — we’re involved in trillions of little acts just to keep going. So, we don’t get into the habit of standing back and looking at our lives and saying, is this all? Is this all I want? Is something missing?”
My wife Sarah doesn't need Morrie to help her chart a path towards her solution to those questions. I’m not sure I yet have my answer. But it will come. Mitch Albom’s book, full of optimism and encouragement from a man declining through a devastatingly debilitating disease and on the cusp of death, gives me much pause for thought.
But on that afternoon, I put Morrie aside and listened to the bees, the ripple of a breeze and watched a seagull glide.