A day begins in darkness, the harp sound on my iPhone strumming me awake. The house is quiet and still, five other bodies in slumber.
I creep downstairs to make dough for Sabbath bread, pulverize the baked pumpkin to mix into a soufflé. I hurry, trying to get this done and then make the kids’ lunches and then write the paragraph the reporter asked for regarding a client story.
The children creep downstairs one by one, still silent from just waking. The day is dawning. The golf course is covered in mist, the orange sun blazing a tunnel through the fog.
My youngest wants the soufflé for breakfast, and I say no because it’s for Friday night, but later in the day, driving on highways that go everywhere and nowhere, I regret saying no. Hot out of the oven, the nourishing reassuring dish would have been a perfect breakfast. I could have made another.
We set these boundaries because we are scheduled and planned, but life is what happens when you let it all go and just live in the moment. I told him later, “I can make another one and that can be tomorrow’s breakfast,” but I know it’s too little too late.
We cannot embrace the spontaneity if we are trying so hard to check off the lists.
He holds my hand as I walk him in to school. I greet the teacher, another mother in the corridor. I work out with a personal trainer at the Y, pushing myself to the very edge, and it feels so good.
I shower, take the oldest son to the orthodontist and we talk a little but he mostly plays with the new puzzle that arrived yesterday from Amazon, consulting his iPhone for guidance in solving it. By the end of the drive, he’s figured it out.
Ever had that feeling that despite all the bustle of the world outside your door, you are utterly, bereftly alone?
It comes and it goes, and it’s completely irrational, of course. And as I listened to Michael Massimino’s Moth story on the radio recently, of his feeling of complete and utter loneliness while being in space, and then his feelings of complete and full connectedness once returning home, I was compelled.
Michael described how his wife heard the despair in his voice on NASA TV and then saw his joy, too. He spoke about the friends who were waiting for him at home, who had decorated his house, who welcomed him back with pepperoni pizza and beer.
He spoke about the camaraderie inside the spaceship, and the notion of all of us down on this planet, in our lives, connected but alone.
The story choked my throat. I was stunned into silence at the complexity of these simple notions in his story.
And the universal truths.
We live mired in the illusion of aloneness, of our own self-importance, of our lack, of our struggle.
What we fail to see, what we fail to step into and live inside of, is the immense connectedness of everything and everyone.
This morning, the principal sent an email to two of my son’s teachers, introducing me as one of the most active and supportive parents in the school. I read the descriptor, and smiled.
There are times when I feel that my existence bears no weight on the outcome of this world. When I wonder who would miss me if I were gone.
Ever been there?
But then there are those moments like the astronaut described, when you look around and realize how many creatures are connected, how essential we all are to one another.
That your friends are waiting for your return.
That your wife hears the catch in your voice, even from 350 miles above the planet, inside your space suit.
And you forgive your own failings, because there is nothing better to do.