Once, while hiking the Hundred Mile Wilderness in Maine, I woke up to the sound of splashing in the small pond our tent overlooked. Rising to observe, I watched a moose swim across the pond, climb out the other side, shake himself off and disappear over the hill on the opposite shore. I never saw that moose again, but see it clearly almost three decades later. I’ve chased mornings like that ever since.
Re-discovering Vagabonding has offered new perspective on many of the quotes Rolf Potts sprinkled throughout the book. Today I’m borrowing two from his collection. First, the extraordinary Joseph Campbell, of “Follow your Bliss” and “Hero With a Thousand Faces” fame:
“People say that what we are all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think this is what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re really seeking is an experience of being alive.” – Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth
There’s a lot of stoicism in that quote. The experience of being alive. I feel most alive on the edges of the day. The early morning, when I’m often alone with the world, and after sunset, when the light show continues well past the sun disappearing. The morning offers possibility, reflection on what came before and that rare moose sighting. I’ve documented plenty of early morning observations on this blog less grand than that moose swimming, but exclamation points on a moment just the same. The early morning is when you hear the call to follow your bliss.
I smelled our dog Bodhi last week. He’s passed but still with us; in random wisps of hair found under the sofa, in the dog infrastructure – bowls, food bins and the like – built up to support our canine habit, and especially in the smell of that dog that comes out on a rainy day in the harness and collar hanging in the garage waiting for a final walk that will never come. He stays with us still, Carpet Fresh be damned.
I also borrowed a bit of Annie Dillard wisdom from Rolf Potts:
“This is our life, these are our seasons, and then we die. In the meantime, in between time, we can see.” – Annie Dillard
The time after sunset is when the light show really begins. If you’re lucky the sky offers you wispy clouds that reflect the fading light in brilliant hues from orange to purple. When a moment, or a life, has passed, the lingering memory may offer brilliant reflection, staying with us well beyond their time, as the light dances above well after the sunset. Moments like that moose return to me like the smell of Bodhi on his collar, whispering “I’m still with you”.
I do think the edges of the day offer focus we may not have during the rest of the day. Stillness brings awareness that might not be available during the frenzy of activity. But whether we focus on them or not, each breath is a part of the sum of all of our breaths, and demand consideration. Here again, Annie Dillard reminds us:
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” – Annie Dillard
So our days (and lives) begin with a call to follow our bliss, and end with memories and reflection. It’s the in between time that is the bulk of our days, and savoring each moment, not just the Instagram moments, is essential. Writing, for me, offers the optics with which to focus on the everyday, and not just that occasional moose moment.