As I'm getting older and realizing my days here are numbered, I do try to seize the day, to be in the moment. Usually it doesn’t work, but occasionally it does. Being here in Portland with my grandchildren, holding them, and actually being able to feel their chubby feet and their very busy little vibes, make me want to stop time in order to frame the feeling, to be acutely present in the absolute joy I'm experiencing.
All of this thinking and feeling leads me to the notion of documenting, in some way, memories of great happiness I've felt throughout my life. I worked diligently to narrow them down; most are generic, a few specific. The majority are from recent years, but not all. And please know that I realize how self serving this is, how all about me it is, and why on earth would anyone else want to read it? If you decide to pass this one by, I won't blame you. However, I do wonder if my list will encourage you to contemplate your list.
Here is my Absolute Joy Top 20 List at this particular moment in no particular order:
- Certain songs and singers - Fly Like a Bird by Boz Skaggs, Wayfaring Stranger by Johnny Cash, almost anything by Van Morrison or Lucinda Williams or Tracy Chapman ( I just added this one) or Neil Young (I've got to turn off KPIG)
- Holding my babies and grandbabies for the first time
- Sunrises and sunsets - I know this one is sappy and probably a cliche, but it's true
- My birthday dinner at Tierra with Molly, when we talked about her dreams for her future and I drank too much wine and she drove me home
- A Gospel Christmas each year at Atlanta Symphony Hall
- Sitting at a tiny Italian restaurant in Athens, Georgia, eating lunch, while my dissertation was being printed
- Watching my grandkids dance
- Barack Obama winning the presidency
- Finding my copy of Arizona Highways with the article I'd written in my mailbox
- When Allison preached my mother’s funeral at the edge of Oak Creek
- Many Christmas mornings, especially one at Tybee some time around 1995
- The beach in winter
- When someone likes my writing
- Being with my kids
- When I create something new and I'm happy with it
- The first time I saw Michael Jackson moonwalk
- The beginning of Lonesome Dove and the end of A Prayer for Owen Meany
- Most cats
- Christmas lights, especially the colored ones, especially when they are in bars
- My solo weekend trip to Paris
In addition, with the exception of being with my family, almost everything on my list happened when I was by myself, and I don't know if that means I'm ultimately happiest with just me, or, if it could be that, without the distraction of others, I'm better able to stop and appreciate the wonderfulness of a particular moment.
So, I guess supreme happiness for me would be to meet up with a cat at a beach-side bar at sunset on Christmas with Van Morrison on the jukebox. I could show the cat pictures of my grandkids dancing and, perhaps, something I've written. I just hope he'd like it.