Same as always

It’s Wednesday again and I’ve been thinking about my sense of continuity, as if I’ve remained the same within, regardless of years piling up. Others tell me they experience this too.

While walking one evening last week I suddenly realized I was intensely happy. Full of joy. There was nothing unusual about the evening, no change in my husband’s illness, just my legs carrying me along, and the sky blue and decorated with clouds, and roadside flowers — especially poppies — in abundance. I gathered a thick handful of grasses and blooms, enough for two bouquets. IMG_0102I can’t manufacture moments like this, they come unbidden now and then, have done so as far back as I remember. (Which isn’t to say there aren’t habits one can cultivate for a “regular” joyful life.) They seem to rise from existence itself, from a momentary and holy forgetting of every other fact or circumstance. They seem completely unattached to age. For example, I could say the joy of that evening felt like young to me, but that wouldn’t be accurate enough because as a child I might have labelled a similar awareness older, or possibly profound, which I would have judged as older and better than others believed I was. In other words, in the self where life seems known most deeply, age mixes and plays or simply disappears.

Yesterday, in a tiny plaza in Vancouver I saw hanging umbrellas, and their protective and humorous shape and colours — the whole notion of umbrellas with their capacity to fold and unfold — offered a visual for joy and the continuity I’m trying to articulate. My brother, whose retirement passion is street photography, captured it, neither young nor old nor in between but something like the same as always.

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photo by Al Doerksen