It’s so interesting to me, if you live life slow enough to pay attention to it, that you can wake up one morning in one part of the country and then literally wake up the next morning in an entirely different experience. I’m back in Seattle, by the beach….again, in the snow….again, with a cold dark fireplace….again, when only yesterday morning I was waking up in a Portland hotel ready to wade through one more day of grad school. A few hours on the road, a few stops to catch up with friends, a few hours of sleep, and just like that I’m waking up to snow. I’ll have to admit that I’m not too disappointed because my pessimistic self thought that we’d not experience snow again this season since buying my SUV last month.
It wasn’t enough snow to deal with 4 wheel drive this morning, but I sure felt the confidence that I could have had I wanted to. So here I am, the sun is out on the mountains and the waves are high and crashing over the bulkhead. It has that really cold, if I fell in I would die instantly, look. You know how sometimes the sea looks warm and inviting, especially in the heat of August. Today is not one of those days. The sea today looks cold, like Bering Sea, “Deadliest Catch” kind of cold. I’m trying to assemble my thoughts from the past several days in anticipation of the task of “shoe-horning” my way back into the life I left behind since last week.
In these past several days I was privileged to share life with some friends from all over the country on the same journey towards a Masters Degree. I wandered through a prayer labyrinth in the sunny hills west of Portland. I briefly joined a band of artists and art students during the 10 day process of firing an anagama kiln in the early morning countryside. I met a new friend in a homeless gentleman named Billy living on the streets of downtown and we were able to share our stories with each other. I pray that he found warmth last night as the snow came down while I slept in flannel sheets.
Now here it is, one day after, and I’m back again, like falling back through the doors of the wardrobe after spending a lifetime in Narnia. Things appear the same, as if time hasn’t advanced since I’ve been gone. But according to the mail that was wedged in my mailbox and the crap piled up in my office, life did indeed continue as usual, with or without me. It makes me wonder how much of life we do all get to impact. Life continues after we leave, no matter where we’ve been. That could be a sobering idea I suppose, except for the realization that we get to make a difference wherever we happen to find ourselves. If anything has changed, even a bit for me, it might be that I’m gaining a better backwards perspective. I’ve always been a, forget yesterday, while looking beyond today, always seeking tomorrow, type of person. I’m thinking that I’m beginning to prefer myself to be a, concentrate on today, while learning from yesterday, not worrying about tomorrow kind of person.
I’ve read that somewhere in the “Book of Books” and Billy reminded me of it on the streets of Portland. He’s a widower with 72 years behind him, not sure of how many are ahead, but not really all that concerned. For him, he’ll spend the day with his memories and working towards his next meal or cup of coffee. That’s as far as he goes. He’s not concerned with Wall Street or Main Street, just his street. I makes me wonder, which of us is better off. Yesterday and today are all he is guaranteed and somewhere along the way, we all need to be reminded of that.