It seems that I’ve had a bit of writer’s block lately — or perhaps because I have been keeping myself so fully occupied that I haven’t given myself the time to look for the words.
It’s just past Christmas, a few days from New Year’s, and also my late mother’s birthday. I feel slightly bad for not knowing how old she would have been. Maybe it’s an excuse, but to me, she will always be the mother that I remember, regardless of what age she might have been to me at any moment in time. In every memory of my mother, she is timeless — young and beautiful, smiling and radiating warmth, kindness and always love. I see my dad, always that ridiculous trouble-maker’s grin and chuckle, always joking around and telling some long-winded story that may or may not be true.
I remember them jolly, smiling and enjoying life.
And this is my gift. Some know that I don’t typically celebrate holidays. If I do, it is more of a cursory acknowledgement of a wider societal practice; sometimes to have a little fun, to share in community celebration and an excuse to display gratitude. I had originally chosen not to partake in most holiday rituals as more of a necessity, and later convenience, and perhaps now a combination of the two among many other reasons that many others also claim — to protest commercialism, lack of religious reasons, etc. (but this post is not about the reasons why).
I don’t partake often in gift-giving rituals, however, it has become apparent to me that the greatest gifts are received when your soul is moved — and that can happen at any moment, so long as we are open to receive. With that thought in mind, I realize that I received so many wonderful gifts in the past week — visiting new places, experiencing the kindness of complete strangers, seeing history preserved, the love and sorrow in a roadside alter, exploring off the beaten path, a homeless couple expressing their simple affection for one another, a waiter who expressed appreciation for kindness in return, a shopkeeper bursting with knowledge and eager to share; and nature giving back to me — the feel of sandstone under my hands, a dusting of snow blowing in a gust, the sun warming my face in a calm moment, the exhilaration of conquering a goal, breathtaking sunsets from so many angles, the desert from a height beyond what I had imagined.
There aren’t enough words, or enough photos to express what I gained from taking a full week to let go of everything; to let go of it all and remain open and let the world fill my soul. There is no intended lesson here, there is nothing I wish to impart on anyone reading this — I just simply wish to express that I am grateful for every moment, in spite of everything that I find difficult. I am grateful to know that even when I’m not feeling like I’m going to come out on top, I will.
Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind, the second is to be kind, and the third is to be kind.
— Henry James