Basking in the Glow

In life, you rarely comprehend an instant while you're still living it. Experiences wash over us like flash floods, mostly without our acknowledging their coming or going. But there are times, while deeply embedded inside a gratifying moment, you can see its dark outer edges and say, "Wow. Look at where I am. I'm inside this ephemeral cocoon and it's warm and cozy in here. And there's no need to ruin the mellow equilibrium by clutching at the walls, trying to prevent them from falling down. I can relax, because this is going to last long enough for me to check back on this thought and still be here."

Last night, wrapped up in a blanket of crowded candle-lit tables woven together by strains from folksinger Dar Williams' guitar, I had such a moment. A very long luxurious such moment. It didn't qualify as happy. Happy is too trite, joy is too manic. It was more satisfying than that, less fleeting, like the last surmounted step at the top of a hill before you stop to enjoy the view.

And as I lingered in this place I thought, "How can I be here? Where is the Everest I needed to climb to merit me such an experience?" Since already, I believe life has been so good to me. "Is this another summit meant to sustain me when I traverse unimagined perils found on my horizon?"

But maybe its less karmic than that. Life has to dole out its experiences, and we are the recipients by default. Ms. Williams put it well in one of her last songs of the night: "Cause when you live in a world, well it gets into who you thought you'd be. And now I laugh at how the world changed me. I think life chose me after all."

And every once in a while, life chooses you for an experience truly worth realizing as you live it.

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