My last three posts were written from the table in a beautiful vacation home in Naples, Florida, where I spent three spectacular and soul-refreshing weeks around my birthday. Though I was there by myself, I never felt lonely. And anytime I wanted, I could wander outside “the palace” into the wide world and create alternate realities at will.
The night before my flight to Florida, I had gone out and bought one of those giant pill organizers for people who have to take meds four times per day. It had 28 little snap compartments, all of which I clicked open once I got home. I grabbed my thyroid medication and systematically plinked out two pills per compartment for 23 of the 28 compartments. Then I grabbed a handful of my daily multivitamin and added those, one by one … plunk, plunk, plunk. Next was my Super B-Complex, then the supplemental Zinc, D3, and on it went. It took a long time, but I got into the rhythm of it and didn’t mind in the least.
When I was done, I called my best friend: “Wow! I’m looking at all the pills I’ll have to take while I’m away,” I chimed. “I’m going to be gone for a nice long time!” We both snorted with sudden laughter at my unlikely “hourglass” and how fitting a marker it was of yet another birthday around the corner. I mean, when you start merrily marking the length of a vacation in pills, let’s face it – you’re old.
I remarked many times while away that a week seemed like a month, in the best of ways. But at some point during my time away, as I wandered into the kitchen to grab a tangy lime pop, I happened to peek down through the clear multi-color lids of the pill organizer and noticed that more were empty than full. It’s silly, but this was significant to me.
Then there was the day I could definitively count the number of filled compartments at a glance. Suddenly, there was a catch in my throat, and a prickly pressure built at the front of my eyes. It’s almost over.
That was the day I began writing “i am here,” which I posted last Friday. The time had come to put into practice those strategies I go to in order to stay fully present, to enjoy this moment and not let thoughts of future or past moments rob me of it. And I’m pleased to report that it did the trick. (You should give it a try, because it really does work.)
As the pills continued to dwindle, I found myself having those inner “i am here” dialogs more frequently until, inevitably, that last 24 hours arrived. My dialogs began to change slightly, to include things like these:
This is the last time for this year that I’ll wash this dish.
This is the last time I’ll sleep in this bed, on these pillows.
Well, this is the last lime pop.
Nestling into those “last time” pillows feels different somehow, like saying goodbye to the friends you made during summer camp. Gathering the sheets for the last loads of laundry – even putting the box to the lime pops into the recycling bin and closing the lid – it’s sentimental to me. I don’t burst into tears, but I do feel the sting of them. Occasionally one will spill over.
And I let it.
I’ve really always been this way, as far back as I can remember. And while I am all for continued personal growth, this is not an area of myself I ever want to change.
The time was drawing nearer. The laundry was all done. The beds had all been made to perfection, with great care not only to leave them neat and tidy, but to give that extra fluff to each pillow so that it would be all the more inviting to whomever might be arriving next to start their own magical escape.
With the Florida sunshine streaming in, I sat in the high-backed leather chair and wrote my entry in the Guest Book, smiling and sniffling the whole time (being careful not to drip on the pages). Then I made the rounds, closing each of the blinds, slowly, one by one.
With the house now in shadow, I went out into the front lanai and dipped my feet in the pool for a few moments, kicking them back and forth like a kid. I breathed deeply. I am here, I told myself. If even for just a few more moments, I am here.
Finally, and a bit reluctantly, I pulled my feet from the water and walked back inside barefoot. I closed and locked the lanai door, which seemed to click too loudly somehow.
I threw my backpack over a shoulder and rolled my bag down the tiled hallway to the door, turning back one last time in the darkness and silence to say goodbye. And thank you.
I closed the garage door, then loaded my things into my friend’s waiting vehicle, hopped into the passenger seat (with my sunglasses on for more reasons than one) and pulled out of the driveway, looking back through the window as long as I could, until no part of the house or yard was any longer visible.
But why write about all of this? What’s my point? Just to indulge myself? Or to see if I can get other softies like me to cry a little?
Within the context that prompted my previous post, it applied to choosing happiness rather than falling into the trap of letting thoughts of the future or the past encroach on the joy of present moments. But how do sentimentality and even tears fit in with being present? Some might even be arguing, “Aren’t these feelings brought on, in essence, by reluctance to let go of past moments or to enter the inevitability of a ‘new present’?”
I suppose that, for some, that might be true. For me, I can honestly say that it’s not. It’s actually part of my being fully present. To deny the tears in such moments would be trying to move prematurely into a future that has not yet arrived – even if that future will arrive in mere minutes.
I recently became reacquainted with this Dr. Seuss quote on Twitter:
Now, I love me some Dr. Seuss. But I think you have to look beyond the surface meaning of the words to see the wisdom held here. And it seems to me (if you’ll allow me to be so presumptuous) that the good doctor was talking about living in the past, in a perpetual state of wistfulness or melancholy or regret – not about denying ourselves the full experience of present emotion. Why do I think this? Because he also wrote this:
Being who I am means fully feeling what I feel in the present moment. And truly, what I feel in those moments of sentimentality isn’t sadness. As I witnessed many times during my wonderful time away, it’s like rain showers and storms that sometimes come even as the sun is shining brightly between the clouds all the while.