This I Believe
I believe it is in the trivial, unimpressive, and often unnoticed that we find life’s true texture and meaning.
When we were kids, my brother and I did everything together. Even when we were not tackling a new project or pastime by choice, circumstance threw us together – just to see what our slightly offbeat personalities would add to the mix. In German class, we were typically paired up to craft, and then butcher, bi-weekly dialogues, chock full of all the guttural noises we never did master. In science, desperately trying to memorize the earth’s geologic eras, we invented a mnemonic device consisting of the first syllable of each era, strung together in one long unpronounceable word: QUATERCRETJURTRIPURPENMISDEVSILORDCAM.
Somehow, we found humor in whatever we did, and whatever we did wrong. In fact, our conviction that a ‘go’ pedal was life’s main control feature, led to a lot of mistakes. Our first serious musical effort, the Steel Band, consisted of as many glasses, pots and dishes as we could find. With spoons in hand, we rendered a rhythmic clanging reminiscent of some cosmic train wreck. And once, we managed to botch the most basic kitchen recipe – Rice Krispie treats. After adding four times the amount of melted butter called for, we marveled at the hideous result – thousands of pale parameciums floating in an otherworldly yellow sludge. Throughout our childhood, as we threw ourselves into each invention or project, or our next attempt at landscaping, or chemistry, or art, not one of the final products was worthy of even the smallest public viewing. And yet, as it turned out, this was the best part -that the outcomes didn’t really matter. That the true joy, the fascination, and the intrigue could be found in the process of living – in squeezing the last drop from an experience and then pulling out the pulp like it was our last meal.
My brother never lost that intensity. As others grew up and allowed the limitations of being grown up pull them down and drown them in the mundane, he never gave up searching. He never stopped believing that life is not about outcomes, but about the infinite possibilities poised in each and every breath.
My brother died earlier this year at the age of 45. Looking back on it now, I believe his legacy is one of appreciating the adventures available to us in the smallest tasks. I believe it is one of uncovering the joy and meaning of everyday life when we pay attention. And I believe that with him by my side, it was my privilege to live a hundred lifetimes in what we recognize, in the most basic of human terms, as the span of a single day.
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