After the third day of my Jazz Course, with well-played music and great group spirit still echoing in my bones, I made myself a simple, delicious and nutritious dinner. Carrot cole slaw with raisins, peanuts and yogurt dressing, a fresh ear of corn and goat cheese, early girl tomato, arugula on top of rustic sourdough bread. Simple pleasures worthy of gratitude.
I then went on to my Men’s Group meeting, the first in some two months and it was sobering, to say the least. In the time I was gone, one person had spinal surgery, another a tumor in his bladder removed, another checked into the hospital when his speech was suddenly slurred, concerned that it was a stroke (it wasn’t), another’s wife also checked into the hospital for a pain near her heart. And that was just the check-in! The topic was reflection on near-death experiences and what people learned from them. Which mostly seemed to be, “Glad I didn’t die.”
What is there to learn from enhanced awareness of our mortality? Simply the renewal of a resolution to live fully, to choose the things that serve the soul, to refuse the distractions and unnecessary paperwork and unpleasant people and fill the minutes with those things that bring joy, happiness, enlarged compassion, kindness and love. Yes, the lion’s paw of mortality keeps showing its claws and one day will bring us down, but the only antidote to death is to live well and fully. It is perhaps rare to realize that everything you are doing in your life now is precisely the same as what you would do if you suddenly found out your days were numbered, but that’s precisely how I am feeling. The life I should be living is the life I am living.
Of course, I’m miserable about the political climate and still have to deal with unpleasant people in power (my daughter’s landlord!) and I’d rather not fill out my curriculum yet again on Google spreadsheet, but most of what I’m doing each day—whether teaching children, teaching adults, playing music and dancing with both, playing the piano, biking, reading good books, hoping to soon write some more good books, soon also to spend time on the Michigan lake with the family, cooking good meals— all of what I’m doing is precisely what I love to do and precisely what I need to do and hopefully exactly the kind of things the world needs. And that is a blessing.
Please pass the corn.