After returning home from watching The Hundred-Foot Journey with my friends last night, I couldn’t sleep. As I lay there in bed, I was flooded with memories from my adulthood. I’m not sure if it was because I cherish being with my friends and it brightens my soul, or if it was a rare moment of enlightenment that comes in the stillness and darkness of night, or the aspects of the movie (cooking amazing food from fresh ingredients, and the importance of relationships) that conjured up fond memories. It could have also had something to do with the fact that as we were walking out of the theater and saw the sign for the 20th anniversary of the film Forrest Gump, I realized that I will have been out of high school for 20 years come next June. The thought that naturally follows that realization is “what I have done with those 20 years?”
And so it came – images and thoughts of all of the amazing experiences that have filled the last 20 years of my life. The memories kept pouring in this morning, and in all I have typed up five full pages on my computer of all of the moments that I cherish and remember fondly. Looking at the list I see a common thread. Every memory involves a relationship with friends, family (including pets), or lovers past. Most were experiences in nature or with food, and all were joyful. Not one thing on the list was about work, or my accomplishments in my career, or about things that I own (with the exception of the day I bought my beach cruiser, cremesicle, and literally jumped in circles when I got to John’s house to show him).
Making the list reminded me of how fortunate I have been in my life – right down to the heart attack that opened my eyes and set me on the path to find what matters the most in my life. I value connectedness (community and family), love, laughter, play, the Earth and nature (especially water), FOOD, travel, cycling, yoga, music. I smiled as I thought about holding hands and dancing on the beach in the moonlight (not any particular memory from the past, but the knowledge that I want more of this in my future). As I wrote the list, I began to appreciate that my life has been rich with experience, joy, and love. I am one of the lucky ones. I live life to the fullest. I cook, love, and laugh with reckless abandon.
It was no surprise when the meditation of the day this morning was about being playful. After all, aren’t those the happiest moments in life, when the seriousness drops away and we laugh and play? The mantra was “Lila Hum” or “I am playful.” About 10 minutes into the meditation, my thoughts began to drift away, I felt a lightness and an opening in my heart, throat and third eye chakras (all of the places where I have felt stuck for the past several months due to some hurt and pain I have experienced in the past year). They opened and I began to cry. I exhaled loudly and fully to let go, to release the pain and come back to my natural state of being – blissful, joyful, whatever word you want to use for happy. Because that is who I am (who we all are) at our core, we are light, love and joy. I’ve closed my heart for long enough – my scars may not be completely healed, but they do not define me and I am not afraid. I walk towards the next 20 years of my adult life with my heart open to more experiences like those five pages that I filled last night and this morning.