“Do Human Beings Ever Realize Life While They Live It?”

Hey there! I’m back from New York, and have been debating whether I should share more NY moments.  The hesitation is two-fold: One, I don’t want to annoy people, like, “she’s not even in NY, why’s she still going ON and ON about it?” Kind of a Mean Girls, “she doesn’t even GO here!” type of thing.   I don’t assume you’re that irritable, I just get a little tripped up wanting people to like me sometimes. 🙂 Second hesitation: I figured I was “supposed to” document this all in real-time.  And when I started this blog on Day 9 of the trip, I had the intention of chronicling these days as they were happening.  But I got a little preoccupied with other stuff, like actually living, and not just taking notes on living. To be honest, I still want to revel in and share some of these life happenings, not because I think my own life is so incredibly awesome and fascinating, but because life itself seems so awesome and fascinating, and I don’t want to lose touch with the wonderful and unexpected and poignant ways life unfolds in our day to day experiences. I feel this really strong desire to hold on to the little memories that are small enough to fade away, but at the time they happen, can really make your day/afternoon/hour.  Those moments can be incredibly small, yet incredibly delicious, and it makes me want to stop a little longer to chew on them, savor them, digest them, instead of just moving on to whatever I can get my hands on next, like some intense kid wreaking havoc at the Old Country Buffet. I recently re-encountered another girl who had some interesting thoughts about enjoying the mundane moments of life.  Well, she’s not a real person, she’s a character from a play, so I didn’t actually meet her at all, but never mind that. That just makes me her literary fan-girl, or makes her my literary spirit animal, or both. In the play Our Town, there’s this Emily character who dies during childbirth, but is granted the chance to relive one day of her life. But once she goes back, she realizes that life is actually pretty mundane, and she and those she loved seemed to take it for granted, let life fly by without realizing just how fleeting and wonderful it actually is.  And as you can imagine, it’s pretty disappointing to realize all this once you’re dead and you don’t get another shot at living it out.  In fact, it’s such a painful realization that she cuts her visit back to Earth short, and asks to go back to the cemetery. And she says:

“I can’t. I can’t go on. It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another. I didn’t realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed…One more look: Good-bye , Good-bye world. Good-bye, Grover’s Corners….Mama and Papa. Good-bye to clocks ticking….and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths….and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it–every, every minute?  -Emily, from “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder

And do you know what answer Emily gets?  “Do humans ever realize life while they live it?” No.  The saints and poets, maybe – they do some. — — Oh, earth, you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it–every, every minute?  — — This Emily girl got in my head.  I could see myself in her shoes. I could see myself feeling like she did, looking back and realizing I didn’t stop to savor life in the very brief time I was given to live it. So here I am at a coffeeshop, reminded of why a season of joblessness/open space/sabbatical seemed like a good idea, and reminded why I’d like to circle back to New York and other recent adventures to relive and savor the mundane yet wonderful things that happened. Because, God…I want to realize life, every, every minute, while we live it.

Shara and me kayaking in Fresno; Katelyn on the shore.

Take care, enjoy your day, and talk to you soon. 🙂


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