I am uncertain about many things, I’ll start by saying that. Not only am I uncertain about ‘The Meaning of Life’, ‘Good and Evil’, and other such abstract and capacious ideas; but I am also uncertain about how E=mc2, where socks vanish to, and what precisely is appropriate to wear to a spiffy dinner party. Last year, I went through an experience that might have contributed to my multitudinous uncertainties, but accomplished quite the opposite.
I sat in the back seat. The gaudy signs of Sheridan Blvd. whizzed past, not looking quite so florid in daylight. The funeral had been large, the tributes tender, and the flowers exquisite. My stomach felt hollow, but I didn’t feel like eating. Chitchat swam limply through the air. Then we passed by Diamond Shamrock, a local service station. Smiles appeared on everyone’s faces; together, we recollected our late father’s ever-enduring love of the 64oz. Big Gulp, which he purchased exclusively at the Diamond Shamrock on the corner of Sheridan and West 45th. Whenever Dad picked one of us kids up from soccer practice or choir, we’d stop and be treated to a styrofoam chalice filled to the brim with our preferred beverage.
Our collective reminiscence was interrupted by the sudden redirection of our vehicle. In a few seconds, my brother pulled into the parking lot of the gas station. We all instinctively piled out of the car. It must have been an odd sight – seven people, still attired in funeral garb, striding into a gas station convenience store, filling the entire supply of 64oz. cups with various soft drinks, and paying the cashier with puffy eyes and smiling faces. But appearance was of little importance, we were doing something that transcended convention.
I believe that sacredness is something altogether apart. I believe that when confronted with the sacred, one is elevated, however briefly, onto a higher plane. I also believe that the sacred often deviates from predictable paradigms. It depends on an individual’s upbringing, interpretation of experience, and attitude towards life. I find the sacred in many ‘clichés’ – church, nature, my family – and sometimes, I find the sacred in a 64oz. plastic cup. You see, to some, that cups only purpose was to hold finite liquids. However, in my eyes, that cup held an infinite, ambrosial cocktail; it contained love, memories, recognition, acceptance, security, and unfeigned simplicity. In that cup, I glimpsed eternity.
When I walked out of the glass doors, I felt no sadness or uncertainty. I felt absolute assuredness. I sat, contemplating the bright stamps of color decorating the cup in my lap; the hollow feeling in my stomach was no longer. All was well in my world.