One snow day last winter Henry and I went through old photos and made a folder called “LIFE.” To qualify for the “LIFE” folder no one could be posing, there had to be some level of mess, emotion or action. It had to look real. These are usually the shots we edit out, clean up, make more palatable before presenting them to the world.
But that’s not life, is it? Two weeks ago my elderly parents’ elder care lawyer died suddenly. The new caregiver I tried so hard to hire for them has ended up in the hospital. The gravel in our driveway has turned to mud. Lots of metal objects are rusting in our backyard. Far too many people I know have cancer. I'm planning a trip to Mexico while searching for memory care facilities for my dad. I’m going to the chiropractor and the therapist and the endocrinologist and trying to set up an appointment with a new psychiatrist. I keep gaining weight, have only the fuzziest handle on finances, my dream of fame is dead, and cannot keep tangled knots of hair and grime off the bathroom floor. But I’m taking such tremendous pleasure in life, too. Coffee, the warmth of bed, my brilliant students, liking my husband again, conversations with my brilliant 14 year old, the full body sweat of hot yoga, my parent’s resiliency, tenacity and humor. It’s a big fat stew with every single thing in it simmering all at once.
Last week an old friend wrote to wish me a happy 2019 and asked how I was doing. I told him:
The older I get, the happier I am. I wouldn’t return to any previous age though they all exist within me. This isn’t the life i wanted in terms of worldliness, success or fame. It’s much deeper, quieter, brighter and more beautiful.
And that, for this life right now, is everything.