My wife was watching Sleepless in Seattle. Such a classic scene, at the end, when the two destined lovers finally, after so many twists and turns, let go of their own resistance and embraced their lives and each other. Jimmy Durante provided the musical background.
Make someone happy
Make just one someone happy
And you will be happy too.
And I pulled my wife up from the couch. She laughed, and we danced around the room. Milo, our cat, was sleeping in a chair and I stopped dancing and sang to him and he started purring.
And then, a new moment. My wife went to the bathroom to brush her teeth and I went upstairs to the bedroom with a book of poems, Cold Mountain, written by the Chinese hermit, Hanshan.
Such moments, ordinary and yet not, make a life full.
Cold Mountain says, Seeing the empty sky, things grow even more still. And I realized stillness and dancing arise from the same root.
Dancing with my wife
The cat purrs.
The moon in the window–
So still, so full, so empty.
When the spirit is right,
The cat and the moonlight
Provide the perfect dance music.
Some of us never stop expecting, or hoping, for something magical to happen, or never stop doing our best to see what is right in front of us as magical. We never let go of that childhood delight in things.
I was lucky and privileged. I was allowed to be a child, and to see the world as full of possibilities. My family lived in a single-family home in the suburbs of New York City. For me, our backyard was often turned into a distant land. My little wagon was transformed into a ship to search out buried treasure, archaeological ruins, or magic stones. The cry of a bird became a message of enlightenment. The people around me became heroes or heroines capable of acts of greatness.
Others weren’t given or allowed this gift, which should be the reality for all of us, especially as children. We all faced fright, threats, and trauma, but too many of us were hurt too deeply or had to face more than any child should be forced to face. Maybe it is possible to step out of this hurt at times and reclaim what was lost. Maybe we can use our past to learn both who to avoid and who we should seek out, that although there is trauma, there is also joy. We can study incidents of kindness so we can learn what it feels like and apply it to ourselves.
I still expect to see heroes and heroines. Our world today needs them, or us; not Superwoman or Achilles, but those ready to do simple acts, to help neighbors, create community, speak out and confront those who would steal the childhood from children or steal the voice of any living being not like themselves from the world itself. This is our call to adventure.
This is our dance, part of our loving, part of embracing life.