Note: To see what the 5 Minute Month is all about, click here to read the first post in the series.
Disclaimer — this post was supposed to be activated yesterday, 5/11/13, but did not go through for some reason.
Yesterday was one of those days that overflowed with activity in a hectic yet pleasant fashion. Following the end of the grading crunch (1 of ? — we have a month left on our term here), my Shakespeare students covered the end of King Lear and then it was off to meet up with an old friend and once-upon-a-time neighbor to march off to see the Dalai Lama, before a whirlwind trip home, back to campus, home again, and then off to congratulate another dear friend on her status as a freshly-minted Ph.D., wrapped up with a short walk home accompanied part-way by another good friend I haven’t seen for a few months.
It was one of those days that gives one pause, as it comes to a close, a moment to think of how easy it can be to change our daily rhythms ever so slightly and yet, somehow, it seems as if one is looking at the world through fresh eyes. (It helps if such a day coincides with the first real day “back” from a head cold). At the start of the Dalai Lama’s talk, one of the speakers urged listeners to wake up each day and think, “it is a beautiful day in the life of the universe.” Now, I’m not a Buddhist nor, it must be said, a spiritually-inclined person of any kind. But what I appreciated, as I thought of that statement, was the sense that no matter how dark the day/month/year/span of time is, the inertia of the universe pushes us towards better days. Given my Old World Scandinavian roots/upbringing, I tend to want to qualify such statements by saying “well, not everyone eventually gets to see ‘better days,'” but I take the point anyway. That saying provided a lens for the rest of my day, anyway, as I watched my friend celebrate her new-founded “Doctor-ness” and enjoyed the company of those celebrating with her.
This weekend also marks the 11th anniversary of my graduation from college, and I compared the years after that — working long hours, falling out of touch with college friends and feeling claustrophobic living back in my home town — with the new world I found by moving to the West Coast nearly 8 years ago. I someone had shown my 22 year-old self a photo of my 33 year-old self mowing the lawn on a hot May morning while the dog chased bees across the yard (he’s smart about many things but not all things), showed me a photographs of my wedding last summer, I don’t think it would have matched my anticipations or expectations — and that’s a good thing. But there’s very little I would change about the last few years, only one or two truly dark and misery-inducing events. I’ve had a lot of very good days that I never saw coming, and some bad ones too, and I’m a better man for both.
As a non-spiritual person, I don’t believe in singular higher powers or networks of spirits guiding each individual’s life. That’s another thing I appreciated about the Dalai Lama’s talk, a moment where he cheerfully mocked some religious inclinations towards the belief that a higher power / God / what-have-you, is devoted to micro-managing the daily lives of individuals. I prefer to think of the universe as simply tumbling along, taking no notice of anything we do, if only because we are so individually insignificant that we are below measuring. There’s a certain liberty in that, one which makes mowing the lawn and trimming the weeds along the fence a very pleasant task on a warm May morning.
Word count: about 616
Time: A good 20 minutes.