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What Makes a Life?

Friday, August 19, 2011
Spyhouse Coffee, Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis

All week, as I’ve been savoring the last vestiges of summer with my two little monkeys, my head has been filled with great, profound, inspiring ideas.  This morning I finally had a few hours to lay it down and write.  Guess what I did?  Cleaned out my inbox, cleaned out the random papers from my commuter bag, went through my mail, dinked around on Facebook (the vast wasteland of Time), and filled a few pages of my journal.  Now I have about 30 minutes to squish all of my great ideas into this post.

Ain’t happening.

But I do have a little morsel of one moment to share with you:

Yesterday evening after dinner, as the late-summer shadows stretched long across Washburn Avenue, Oliver, Lucy, and I walked down the sidewalk to Bigfoot Park.  It’s actually called Triangle Park, but we’ve called it Bigfoot Park ever since Oliver and Lucy were two and four and I brought them down to that park to step into the huge footprint-shaped hole that I told them was from Bigfoot.  The hole has since been filled and the park landscaped.  But it’s still Bigfoot Park to us.

Lucy and I held hands and talked about things like fashion and flowers and ant hills while Oliver walked ahead in his own little reverie, head held high, swooping his remote control airplane through the air while making whooshing sounds.

The park is a grassy knoll surrounded by raised garden beds that Rob helped Tree Trust plant two summers ago, perfect for flying kites, playing kickball, and having picnics on a summer day.  At one point I looked up from where Lucy was coloring and I was writing in my journal, and watched Oliver’s silhouette against the blue, pink, and orange of the setting sun, flying his airplane.

I sat there thinking, “I want to remember this moment exactly how it is, forever.”  I stared into that moment as I sat there, trying to imprint it on my brain, so years from now, I can come back to it, just as it was.

One moment.  One precious moment worth everything.

“Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”
Mary Oliver

But it’s impossible.  Because every single day is filled with these tiny little moments that mean everything in the world, and our gray matter just can’t keep up with all of the glory this life brings.

So we take these moments and infuse them with our love and attention.  Because it is these simple moments that are our riches.  It is these simple moments that make a life.

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