Here's to life!
There is a scene in the movie "Garden State" that I've always loved. It's between Natalie Portman and Zach Braff. They are sitting by a fireplace and Braff is staring straight ahead, seeming to focus on nothing in the room but rather something in the recesses of his memory. Portman looks at him and says: "You're in it right now, aren't you? My Mom always says that when she can see I'm, like, working something out in my head. She's like, 'You're in it right now.' And I'm looking at you, and you're telling me that story, and you're definitely in it right now."
Though Braff is "in" his head trying to figure out his mom's death, his relationship with his dad and other problems, I think that concept of being "in it" applies to life in general too. So often I feel like I'm skimming over the surface of my life. Only sometimes do I dive deeper and truly connect with the people and scenes around me and the emotions inside of me. But when I do, those are the moments I remember as I reflect on a day, a week, a month or a year.
This January, as I've spent some days looking back on 2008, I have enjoyed going through those moments when I felt completely connected and alive. I only wish there were more. I can only hope I slow down in 2009 and strive to go deeper than the surface, deeper than merely making a living in order to live a life only God can make.
In retrospect, here are a few of those moments I was "in it" in 2008:
* Solo snowboarding excursion in February. At one point in the day it was me, the falling snow, and a toe edge turn that had sent me sprawling down the hill many a time in my snowboarding past. But not this day. I squinted, let out a determined breath and made it. I felt like I was flying.
* Sipping hot cocoa while sitting at my kitchen table, my bare feet chilled by the cold flooring but my hands warmed by the mug.
* Motorcycle ride up Casper Mountain this summer with a friend. We hiked at the top. With all the rain, Wyoming's hills were greener than normal. It was beautiful. And on the way down, we weaved through a neighborhood where many folks were watering their lawns. The mist cooled us down, and I can still recall the smell of moist earth.
* Working on articles on deadline with a cup of good coffee by my side. Deadlines bring such clarity of thought sometimes.
* Handstands and cartwheels on the beach of Guernsey Reservoir at sunset with my friend Sarah. Follow that with barbecued pizza, home-brewed beer and a night under the stars, and life really is sweet.
* Cherry picking in the Flathead Valley on a warm summer day with my family. Surreal.
* Watching Willie Nelson fans hoist their beers to the legendary singer/songwriter at a concert in August with my friend John. If you didn't love Willie in that moment, you weren't alive.
* Listening to the whistle of my Amtrak train before sunrise one morning in Nebraska. It sounded like adventure wooing me deep into the unknown. Taking risks, it seems, forces us to enter into our life with gratitude for where we've been, hope for where we're going, and trust for whatever is happening the moment you "step over the edge."
* Oddly enough, sitting with a woman I had just met after she broke up with her boyfriend. She cried and ate ice cream while two of her friends and I offered comfort. The emotions, good and bad, were so real I felt privileged to share them with someone who was, more or less, a complete stranger.
* Typing "The End" on my very first novel, written in a creative 30-day flurry. Long-time dream: accomplished.
* Pushing my best friend's little girl on the swings.
* Playing chess late at night with my Dad.
* Walking the dog with my Mom. Especially when we stopped for coffee.
* Hearing my brother tell me he loves me on the phone. When he says it, he means it. Do you ever feel more "in it" than when you know you are loved?