That's the moment my heart skips a beat. My eyes move away. My throat aches with an indescribable pain. It cracks the way I've seen the desert crack 100 times before. The land splits, dry from having not seen rain for an amount of time that feels impossible. I try to swallow but my throat is so tight that I have to clear it even though there's nothing there. I swallow hard. There's an echo in my ears. I hate that echo. Nothing good has ever followed that reverberation. I go silent. I pick at my cuticles. I'm stuck in my head and my finger tips are raw. I am lost, I am staring, I am blank, I am silent. Completely separated from myself. I question every piece of it. I wonder about every wrong turn. Every unkind word. Every moment that it turns out, never deserved a second thought. Fear and distress pulls regret from my marrow. It extracts the hows and whys and... forces change. It shows up with a gift basket perfectly wrapped, full of reminders.
I untie the ribbon and pull back the cellophane. I lift humility from the basket. Reminder: you are but a speck in this vast existence. You are beautiful, but you are no more nor no less beautiful than those that stand next to you. You are talented, but you know nothing in comparison to a master. You are just as unique as each and every person to your left and each and every person to your right. I stumble as if I've been shoved by all seven billion of the others all at once. I catch myself. I reach back in.
My hand comes back full. I'm holding time. The hands of the clock swirling. I can hardly take one deep inhale before all the pieces turn to ash and fall to my feet. Reminder: you can lose it all in the matter of moments. Tiny pieces strung together in a sequence that rides like a roller coaster. Every ebb every flow... some so low I wonder if I'll have enough momentum to make it back to level ground, some so high I wonder if even the heaviest of stones could pull me from my new place in the sky.
I see a glint of something golden at the bottom of the basket and so I go back for more. I dive in, my hand feeling around frantically, but the basket is empty. An underhanded gift of reality. Reminder: the world owes you nothing. This trip we are given is a magical, scary, utterly imperfect gift. Work with that you have. Build from the ground up. Remember your roots, but never neglect the strength in your wings. Love the moments. Love the people. And if you cannot love them? Show them decency. Instead of reaching for what's easy, reach for what is meaningful. Reach for what is deep within your own accumulation of atoms. Reach for what hurts you. Reach for the hearts of others. Reach for meaningful relationships. Reach for the place that you will make the greatest impact. Say you're sorry when you are wrong. Hug each and every special creation around you. The synchronism of breaths can mend any deep fracture of your heart no matter if that breath is of human or fur.
I tell myself, "How lucky you are to be but a tiny spot on the map in the midst of all this stardust."
I can't help but wonder, "what impression will I leave on the small number of others I cross paths with?" I wonder if it is a lasting one. I wonder if it is deep. I wonder if my memory would curve lines across faces... if it would make them laugh. If it would be relieving. I wonder if there is time to change. I wonder if there is time to grow. I wonder if there is time to plant love deeply in those I have made feel less than. I know there is no guarantee, and so I start now.
To those I have hurt: I am sorry. I am so deeply sorry. You are enough. May we realize that we are both human. May you have the patience to let me find myself to my knees. Please forgive me.
To those who have found a lighthouse within me: I have found that in you also. Thank you from the bottom of my soul, thank you for holding me there. Thank you for guiding me and for letting me guide you. Thank you for holding tightly to my hand when I need rescuing, even when the tides could so easily pull us both under. You are a beacon and a refuge and that is no small task.
And so I ask. How can I show up better tomorrow?
How can I give more and take less?
How can I leave this earthly place with knowing that I gave kindness at every turn?
How can I remove my anger, my frustrations, my shortcomings and leave them like muddy boots at the front door of this glorious adventure?
And so this Monday, I ask: How will you? Remember that we falter, but we can all rise from even the deepest of darkness. Kindness is something that we can all afford to give.