Last night I worked until 9. It wasn’t what I wanted to do, I just knew I needed to keep up — with deadlines looming, pressures mounting, daily demands flying around unchecked, my evening work sessions are generally productive. Tonight was no exception. I felt some sense of satisfying completion when I left with unfinished business stacked on my desk. When I got home, I was exhausted, then the phone rang…a friend in need. Listening to the pain and confusion, I realized how important that connection is — to pick up the phone to hear another person’s voice of comfort is a treasure. It felt good to know that a loved one felt comfortable enough to choose my number to call. Thoughts of work melted away.
By the time My Music Man got home I was spent. But, there was a gathering down the road and he wanted to go so I accompanied him. We walked (no, hiked!) up the hill to the tip tippy top of Tomales, the highest point in the town. Our friend, Bill, has built his dream home that overlooks the entire village. 4 acres on top of the highest peak. It is the best view in town!
I walked along the wrap-around porch of this half-built structure that encompassed the incredible views of my little community. It looked bigger from up here, more sprawling than I knew. The beauty of the glowing houses at night was stunning. Life was simple and picturesque. Up here all was quiet and easy. Standing there surrounded by the dreamy flickering lights of people’s lives, I was energized. I had no idea this existed right here in my home town.
There was laughter and voices in the distance and we followed the sounds curiously. Down the hill nestled in the trees was a clearing and a huge fire pit with faceless figures gathered around a blazing fire. This fire was spectacular, logs piled high, marshmallows burning in flames, shouts and shrieks of glee as the little balls glowed on the end of the long sticks. I chuckled at these adults enjoying the pleasures of the children inside them, passing around bottles of wine and bags of those large white sugar balls. The object of this game was to roast your marshmallow without it going up in flames, which was a feat due to the heat of the fire itself. Few were able to accomplish this, but when they did there was raucous applause.
We walked up and the circle parted to let us in.
Conversation was all around, folks chatting, introducing themselves. Some we knew, some we didn’t… digesting all the connections and interlocking relationships. Who are these people who live within walking distance of our house? This one lives behind us, that one lives around the corner from the one over there, another has just moved back from somewhere else. We have seen them living here, the lights in their houses, the laughter, the music floating around, the comings and goings of life, not knowing who they are or what story they hold within those walls.
One conversation that I heard repeatedly centered around the experiences of living here in this town. Each person had a story, a reason for being here. Most folks related their reasons for choosing this life and these surroundings. It’s not easy being here, it means a conscious choice. But for many, the alternative is beyond their paradigm. They couldn’t bear the thought of traveling on a highway every day, This place was about comfort, quiet and peace, beauty, simplicity, and tradition . All related their feelings of gratitude for living in this town. It was truly wonderful to feel a part of this community, even though I had almost not come. I was tired, exhausted, really, but I sat in a perfectly comfortable chair by the roaring fire, stoked by some virtuous soul who kept loading the massive logs on the fire, keeping it hot and bright. I didn’t want to move. Sitting there with my glass of wine, I didn’t even need to talk, just listening to the conversations around me was wonderful. It was perfect.
Time passed and I didn’t pay attention. The laughter, the floating words and glowing faces were brilliant and intoxicating.
In the last few years, I’ve started to notice that my life is filled with perfect moments, moments that embody my notion of heaven. I play a game with myself called something like “Perpetual Moments” — if I could choose a moment to be stuck in, what would it be like? Often I find myself sitting in one of those moments, morsels of time bubbles that are as perfect as they come. I feel it when I think “I could stay in this moment forever and be perfectly content.” That’s when I know I’ve found one and I pluck it from the tree and tuck it inside myself. Instead of gathering things and objects in my life, I gather these bubbles of perfection and collect them in some invisible place, keeping them all safe from any chance of forgetting.
This night by the fire with these strangers-now-new-friends-and-acknowledged-neighbors was one of those moments, now tucked safely away with the other perfect time bubbles. I’ll go back here one day when I have all the time in eternity, this will be one of those moments I bring into heaven when I get there.