Another Reverb 10 prompt that made me think and think and come up with an answer I feel is less than satisfactory. But then again, I think the purpose of this exercise is to engage in such questions and be surprised by what comes forth.
December 3 – Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). (Author: Ali Edwards)
I first thought these should be the happiest moments and that gave me enough of grief (!) since there have been a wonderous number of them, especially in the second half of the year. But I realized I need to stop feeling guilty about that. Okay, so that’s the touchy-feely Chicken-Soupy bit of it out of the way.
As I started to type out this post, it also occurred to me to wonder whether happy moments are the only ones in which I feel alive. Undoubtedly the first six months of the year were shrouded largely in gloom. I felt like everything was slipping away, not just out of control but out of reach – health, family, friendship, career, creativity. Every single thing that mattered to me was vanishing into a black hole. I felt like I was being stripped away, layer by painful layer and what would be left of me in the end?
This was among the first things I talked to the boy about. He found it difficult to imagine having a crisis of identity of the sort I was describing but he was wise enough to conclude that it indicated our differences not my problems.
I don’t quite know if I felt alive in those moments. Actually it felt more like what I had thought of as my life was just flaking off, chipping off, peeling off in ugly, painful ways, the ugliest, most painful sensation being the fact that they came off so easily. I think this poem from my past captures the feeling perfectly. That time was about one person leading a crowd of others. This time, it was true of every single emotion, way of being, person and relationship. A winding down, a closing out, an approaching full stop.
And then there was life. Just as it is hard for me to understand completely what happened in my head in the first six months, it’s equally difficult to sort out what’s been happening since then.
Mornings are usually my favorite time of the day. I’ve stayed awake through nights often and the subtle start of each day is always one that lifts my spirits. It’s still an odd feeling, sometimes having to go to sleep right after that. But the glory of the moment hasn’t been lost.
Then there are specific moments when I’m swimming, a more recent occurance. I usually swim a number of laps, going one way freestyle or breast stroke. At the other side, I’m usually out of breath so I flip onto my back and float back, my legs gently pedalling and my arms loosely drifting along the sides of my body. The sky is usually a pale greyish-brown, the colour of ash as it falls off burning paper. I often see crows flying in V-formation overhead. I can’t hear the usual sounds overground, of voices, car horns and daily life. But I can hear splashing, bubbles floating by as other swimmers splash past, muffled sounds which is what water does to voices. And it feels like the water washes away the confusions and strains overlaying my thought process. Then the top of the club building comes into sight, which is when I know I’m nearing the edge of the pool and need to be careful not to bump my head. And as I touch the side and drift up to vertical place, I am ready to turn around and swim another breath-challenging lap. Or walk out of the pool into whatever waits for me next.
That’s alive indeed.