December 3 – Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).
As much as I’d love to take you back to some Spring day and recount a lovely memory, I’m afraid my brain is too old and fried for that. The best I can do is a few weeks back. But it was a good moment; a really, really nice moment and one of the best this year.
It was during our trip to Nashville to celebrate John’s birthday. One morning, we walked to a pancake place for breakfast and then back to our hotel–about 3 miles round trip. It was a great walk, and it took us right through the beautiful campus of Vanderbilt University. When we returned, it was still too early to consider going downtown to the bars, and we were just in this completely lazy, completely relaxed mood that rarely happens any more since we had the kids. I can’t remember if it was my idea or John’s, but we decided to spread a blanket out in the middle of campus and just lay there.
It was delicious. No schedules to worry about, no set time to return home, no rules, no responsibility and no agenda. We chose a spot in a grassy common area in the middle of campus. All around us, substantial brick buildings that reeked of academia made me want to discuss literature or write poetry. I gazed at the ancient structures and reminisced about how much I had loved college–all the books, papers, discussions, theories. (sorry, nerd alert)
The campus was so quiet; peaceful, really. And yet there were young people all around–walking, hanging out, throwing frisbee, or reading. It was sunny and about 70 degrees–warm for mid November. I laid on my back and looked up at the perfect sky and spent a long time examining the leaves high up in the trees, and the way they moved when the wind blew. I let my mind wander; something I had not done in a long, long time. Then I closed my eyes, and just listened.
side note: I should point out that closing my eyes is the ultimate sign that I am relaxed, because I am one of those people who expects that something or someone will assault me if I do not constantly stand guard. Therefore, to close my eyes is to be extremely vulnerable, and something I rarely do in daylight. I have no idea if this is some sort of side effect of growing up with an older brother, but I have a theory. (Okay, side note ended. You can proceed)
I was so relaxed and at ease; I felt so much like my true self that I could hardly recognize the feeling. It seemed like time stopped and the moment stretched on forever.
It was the feeling of being alive.