Life's alterations

Sometime you notice a small thread coming loose from your sweater and you see things unraveling. Life is filled with these tiny signals that magnify change. As clothes get tattered, you notice the button coming loose, the tear in the fabric or the thinning out of the material and your mind thinks about alterations.

We humans go through these changes too although we don’t often get to see the rip and tear so clearly. As we age, we feel the aches and pains in our back, the stiffening in our joints or the slow march of aging through the body.

I learned today of the death of someone who I have known for over 35 years, Jay Haas. He attended my wedding and he was a friend of my wife since middle school. He and his wife met in junior high, dated and married. Although we had very little contact over the last twenty years, word of his death was a shock to me. Death is a sacred reminder of the blessing of this moment when we are alive. There is a chilling sadness washing through my veins thinking about his family. He was just turning sixty this month. 

Our typical days are filled with tugs and pulls of yesterday or the stresses and strains of tomorrow. We worry about paying the bills, keeping up at work or family matters. Yet in all of this spinning we find it difficult to stay rooted in now and to take pleasure in our aliveness.

Breathing in, breathing out
I try and use breathing as an aide to help me through difficult situations and to give me an anchor to hold the space. Can I stay calm, feel my feelings and stay present. Can I take several deep breathes so that I can be here right now. If I feel sadness, I acknowledge that it’s okay to have these feelings without fighting them. If it a feeling of exuberance, I like to ride that wave too. All of the feelings are okay as I try to accept that some things are not in my control. Being conscious of my own breathing helps me realize that I am alive- keeping me grounded in this moment which is precious and not to be wasted.

Slippery when wet
Life can be filled with many slips and slides. Tears of sorrow or laughter come from the same places yet I don’t think we spend enough time in search of our inner silliness. We love to take ourselves so seriously and to imagine our own control of things. I am guilty as charged of doing this and bringing on worry and fear. Yet it is in trusting the universe, letting go of fear and take a slip every now and then that we do our best work as humans. 

Woody Allen once said that “if you want to make God laugh, make plans.”

Abraham Lincoln said, “It isn’t the years of life, it is the life in the years.”

I lean toward wanting control yet many of my MomentSlater are filled with a search for laughter and joy. My wife and daughter's often accused me of making terrible puns but I don’t care. I need to lighten up the tension in a room through humor. I like to encourage people to let go of positions so tightly held that we hold our breath. We are all so serious and so self-important. Lightening up is good for the soul and for our own health. 

Past meets the future
Our lives only exist right now and we can take advantage of the moment by reconnecting with loved ones, feeding tuna fish straight out of the can to our 16 year old Persian cat or by helping a friend in need.

At this very moment, I am very aware that I wish I had stayed in touch with my friend who passed away yesterday. I know I have lots of work to do to be even more present. I strive to be someone who lives in the moment and doesn’t just write about the topic. I see my own inconsistency.  So I take three deep breathes, inhale and exhale while I marvel in the grace in my own life. 

While remembering my friend, I recalled that in the 1980's, he and his wife came to our house on New Years Day to celebrate together. They both wanted to see our little bakery where we made our brownies. As they drove behind us and followed us in our car, our little yellow Volkswagen Rabbit got caught on something on the side of the road and as I quickly turned the car, Ra El and I landed upside down and the car rested on the windshield. We probably slid on the highway for another few hundred feet. 

Miraculously, we both survived without a scratch, but our friends watched the accident as it occurred. As we crawled out of the car, shocked but alive, Jay made a funny remark that I don't exactly remember but it was something to make me laugh like 

"Can you do that again so I can get it on film."

 His instinct was to celebrate our good fortune with his a light touch of humor. I will take some comfort in remembering my friend’s wonderful laugh, the love he had in his heart and those special moments of generosity that I witnessed. 

It feels like he was here for a very short moment. I wish I could alter that life thread.