Saturday, December 04, 2010

filling station

through timeless words
and priceless pictures
we'll fly like birds
not of this earth
and tides they turn
and hearts disfigure
but that's no concern
when we're wounded together
and we tore our dresses and
stained our shirts
but it's nice today
oh, the wait was so worth it..

~ jason mraz

from the front end, ten days can stretch beyond the horizon, full of plans and promise.

but the fact is, ten days is only 240 hours, and they pass in the blink of an eye.

especially if you fill them up with life.

for example, you could roll out of bed at dawn every one of those days, because that's when you wake up and find you're ready to get your day rolling. however improbable you might've found that prospect on the front end.

and because it's already warm, you might throw on shorts and a t-shirt and walk a couple miles along the beach as the sun comes up, watching the sky change from purple to pink to orange.

you could pass a couple dozen people, who invariably smile a little smile and say a quiet good morning, because they too are experiencing something simple and clean and timeless and therefore profound.

your new routine, which in no way resembles your old routine, might include coffee that smells like coconut, and a bowlful of something healthy that includes actual coconut.

later, your day might find you out on the electric-blue water, hovering over an ancient volcanic crater or a fossilized coral reef covered with contemporary coral. you splash overboard with a tiny cylinder of portable atmosphere, putting a world of distance between you and your regularly scheduled programming. from the boat to the bottom is a matter of a few dozen feet, but the quiet that settles over you feels like a warm embrace of miles.

it's like swimming in the world's biggest tropical fish tank, pulsing with color. until you see the enormous sea turtles paddling around you, which could never fit in a tank. the honu are either mildly curious or completely indifferent to your presence in their world. they drift away in all directions, leaving much more of an impression on you than you made on them.

another day might find you clinging for life to the side of a volcanic ridge, high above a tropical valley floor. your position is made more precarious by the early morning fog and mist swirling around you. each step is an opportunity for a foot to slip. every reach up is a chance to lose your grip.

photos never do justice to the steepness of this climb, or the consequences of an uncontrolled descent. you don't really get it until you're 10 or fifteen minutes up. that's when it hits you that if you fall, you die.

you keep going up, because the thought of not finishing is unacceptable. in fact, the goal is to get to the top quicker than the last time. for no particular reason.

when you get there, you catch your breath but you don't really celebrate. because you know that the trip down is actually more difficult, and now it's raining. en route, how many times does your foot slip off its designated step? four? six? how does that shot of adrenaline feel, every time?

after what seems like hours, you reach the bottom safely. and you're already thinking about repeating this foolishness on your next visit. which means you're an occasional adrenaline junkie, and therefore not very smart.

ten days seems like a long time, except on day nine. that's when you realize how pitifully short it is. and in a time-warped moment of clarity you can see ahead to a day you might be at this place again, after the children have grown and gone. you think back to this trip, when they were here, running around acting like children...and you wonder where the time went.

you feel that moment with perfect lucidity, and find it dusty and sepia toned. it's not adrenaline you experience then, but something else moving and powerful.

ten days is only 240 hours. and they pass in the blink of an eye, whether you fill them up or not.

better to fill them up with something. if you're lucky, it could be something timeless and priceless.

and so worth it.

Sent from my iPad

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