Before moving to Durango, I was a working zombie. Each day melded into the next; routine pushed me along like an airport’s moving sidewalk. Every decision felt as if it had been made a thousand times before: wake, feed cat, exercise, shower, dress, eat, pack lunch, commute, work, commute, let cat outside, eat, watch TV, sleep, repeat. Memories of my childhood and youth in Granger, TX, and of my adult life in Houston, TX, and then Silver Spring, MD, remain muted. There’s no vibrancy or crispness to the details. That’s because I was asleep for all those years.
Living *awake* is hard work but worth it. Staying present means appreciating the subtleties that make each day meaningful.
I spent the last week in Texas with family. I made a conscious effort to soak in my environment, to really be in the moment. Some things I recall:
- The pungent scent of burning incense at my uncle’s funeral, a powerful reminder of the daily masses I attended as a child.
- A rainbow of plain tee shirts (71 of them) hung neatly in my brother’s closet.
- The glorious first bite of the homemade Czech kolaches that my sister and I baked – for the first time – and our squeals of delight and high-fives that we’d succeeded.
- The downy-soft hug of an elderly aunt I hadn’t seen in years.
- The strange and uncomfortable nostalgia driving the pot-holed streets of my small hometown – recognizing some houses and landmarks, and others not at all.
Perhaps all the rich details I noticed will find their way into a novel or short story. At least these memories are crystal clear because of choice; because I remained awake rather than shutting down.
Are you present in your world? Do you have to work at it?