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Life in Coffee Spoons and the Taking of Toast and Tea

April 26, 2011
C'mon its pretty. It's setting a nice 'tone' for the blog post.

C'mon its pretty. It's setting a nice 'tone' for the blog post.

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” – Annie Dillard

It seems a simple concept, really: every day is strung next to the other, the summation of these beads of memories making the necklace of our life.  Yet we as human beings seem to have a vague sense that life is gestalt – more than the sum of its individual parts – and so expect that our lives to be more than what daily activity makes them.   This expectation of something more than what is seen and directly experienced can lead to disillusionment, unhappiness, the battle cry of sixteen years old everywhere: Life’s not fair.   And perhaps this sense of cosmic entitlement is true: maybe life is more than the product of the everyday.  After all, you can have a bad day and consider your life mainly blessed.

“Life is the sum of all your choices.” – Albert Camus

It’s the cliché to end all clichés: ‘Stop and smell the roses!’ ‘Life is what you make of it!’  It is cliché because on some level it is true.  Our personality and tendencies arise from the summation of our experiences.  What we accomplish today directly impacts what we can do tomorrow.  We interact with life as both reactive and active agents.  And I’ve noticed that in times of happiness, simply having the day, experiencing that one day seems to be enough.  The future begins to fade in relevance, past regrets and pains seem no longer so dire, for how can they be, when they led to this one mundane yet happy moment?  It is only when I’ve had emotionally hard times that the daily aspect of living seems like a cruel joke.  It is then that the past – and distorted memories of both the good and the bad – rise up in salience, and the future seems a terrifying weight, the anvil teetering towards dropping.

“In spite of the cost of living, it’s still popular.” – Kathleen Norris

Of course, it is best when the present of today builds towards a vision of a positive future, but sometimes one doesn’t have the luxury of that option.  Speaking as an ambivalent and directionless twenty-something, I don’t even know what future I am striving for.  Sure, I have a vague vision of a white picket fence and a stay at home husband who is good with my three kids and large wolfhound, but what type A personality girl doesn’t have that fantasy these days?  The point is that the present is the only thing I know how to shape to my liking.  I am not working to a specific future, but rather to a specific present: figuring out what I want to be doing for the long term sure, but mainly learning to just exist and be happy in the meantime.

“Never take life too seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.” – Anon

I used to think that if I were ever unfortunate enough to end up in prison (as a freedom fighter, thank you very much, not as a petty criminal!) I already have a lifetime of memories to sieve through and cherish.  Every moment of every day, we are overstimulated with sense.  Right now, in this sterile office, I feel a light breeze on my hands, sweat curling down the arch of my foot, see lights reflected off the computer screen making miniature suns, hear AC and mutterings and distant car noises, and this is just surface level sensation.  I also have my constant internal monologue running on autopilot like Saturday morning cartoons in the back of my head, my emotional state (caffeinated with a dollop of excitement and verve!) and my biological state (lunchtime yet?).  All in one moment of one day.  Can you imagine the layers of information contained within a single memory?  Prison would afford the time to finally appreciate all this raw data I have spent years collecting.

“There is no such thing in anyone’s life as an unimportant day.” – Alexander Woollcott

But I digress.  I suppose the rambling message of this post is that, as Spirits of Trees pointed out in her excellent blog, celebrating the little daily joys of life IS one of the little daily joys of life.  If the majority of one’s days are happy, is not one’s life?

“The tragedy of life is not so much what men suffer, but rather what they miss.” – Thomas Carlyle

Thus I leave you with my celebration of yesterday’s joys; may they inspire you to see the little loves in your own.

  • A pair of shoes dropped on the sidewalk a block apart; they fit me perfectly and smelled of lavender.
  • The bus driver made eye contact with all his riders, smiled, asked how they were doing and waited for a response.  The bus became a temporary community.
  • An old man biking past me yelled “Need a ride home?” and gave a fake lascivious wink. He then told me to have a nice evening.
  • A woman knitted a white scarf across from me in the park; a couple sat trailing their toes in the fountain water.
  • A black window washer cleaning the coffee shop glass flirted with a white baby inside eating a croissant.  The baby giggled and her eyes never left his face.
  • Sitting on a porch bench, swinging gently, warm summer night soaking into my skin, Mike’s hard lemonade on my lips, being held.
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