I know this can’t go on forever, this radiant burn and energy.
Can you see it in my eyes from the picture?
I’ve earned the wrinkles and the scars. I’ve earned the smile today, too.
I’m sitting here with the door wide open, enjoying a warm December afternoon. Güino, my tuxedo cat, prowls the landing outside, awaiting another squirrel’s visit. I watched a few divebomb the bird feeders outside today, collecting pecans, peanuts, and even suet from the songbird’s offering plate. It’s cloudy outside but such clouds have never brought melancholy; quite the opposite.
When I went outside this early morning and felt the air, I wanted nothing more than to put on my other shoes and take off walking across Northwest Arkansas. Work of course pulled me back to reality. I used the pace of work to draw me into a blurring zone of activity; hallways, concrete, and lots of stairs. Now that I have a Fitbit, I realize that I’m logging 50+ floors each day, which tickles me. I can walk 25,000 steps without giving it a second thought. As my friend Tammy taught me, “Nothing tastes as good as this feels,” the occasional realization that I don’t realize that I’m walking without another hundred pounds of me on my back. It feels like I’m gliding on air a lot of the time. I wish I had done this transformation twenty years ago.
I got to hug Kathy, a coworker of mine who has logged 30+ years there. She’s retiring Friday. I made her a personal canvas with a departing message, one conveying the bittersweet goodbye of her approaching and permanent absence. I didn’t start greeting her warmly or with a hug until a little over a year ago. Covid aside, that’s a shame. Personal connection helps all of us nullify that urge to be ‘professional,’ aloof, or behave in ways that violate our obligation to treat each other as people first and foremost.
Even after work as I wandered Walmart in search of people and stories, I felt like I was radiating an aura of energy. I helped three people while I was there. My biggest reward was saving someone a few hundred dollars on an alternate laptop. I gave the woman my email address and told her to write me if she has any issues with her Chromebook. I wished a few dozen people “Merry Christmas!” as I glided around the aisles. I saw the biggest afro hair I’ve ever seen there. I watched as someone cleverly misused the self-service kiosk to avoid paying for an item. (You get what you make us pay for Walmart.) Another man pulled at least twenty jugs of milk out of the cooler to inspect some unseen quality that only he could see. And I handed the Salvation Army bell ringer her choice of diet or regular soda. Thankfully, she chose regular, leaving me to down the entire bottle of Coke Zero in about two minutes.
If I felt this way every day, I’m not sure it might not be too much. It’s a wondrous feeling while it’s happening. I find myself mourning its eventual loss, though, as ridiculous and odd thing as that might be to say.
My sister wrote me, telling me that she’s still having difficulty, especially now that another round of inevitable physical symptoms creeps up on her. I can’t imagine struggling with addiction and past patterns. The ones I have are enough to keep me dancing; her shadows are longer and deeper than mine. Our pasts overlap and because of that, I understand the complexity.
Meanwhile, I’m going to step outside and take another short walk. I feel like I might be leaving visible energy trails in my footprints. I hope so.
And I hope that some of y’all are feeling exuberant, too, even if you can’t identify the cause. For many of you, it’s Christmas season, when exuberance is supposed to infuse your life like the first observed lightning bug of the summer.
While energy cannot truly be erased, our measure of it is limited by the burning fuse of our lives.
I can FEEL my fuse burning. I know I sound crazy sometimes. But if you can imagine looking up at the sky and sun and thinking to yourself that the same force that powers the universe powers us, it might be more relatable.
What goes up must come down. That’s okay. I’ve captured this day-long feeling of radiance and bottled a bit of it in my memory.
Nothing momentous happened today. And that’s precisely why it felt so precious.