What an incredible day.
I spent a few hours this afternoon sitting in a local coffee shop, listening to my Ipod, writing, and generally enjoying. I love sitting near the window and watching people go about their day, wondering where they've been and where they're going. People are fascinating to watch. Anyhow, an older lady comes into the crowded coffee shop and comes over to my table and puts her stuff down in the empty chair across from me.
"Don't worry," she looks at me as she puts down her purse and bag, "I won't talk. I'm just going to read my book."
I nod and smile. "No worries," I say. "Be my guest."
She returns with a tea and sits down opposite me and takes out her book. And then proceeds not to read, but to talk. So, I take out my earphones, turn off my Ipod and listen. This is life. When people need to talk, you listen.
She proceeds to tell me about how nice it is to get out for a tea, since she lives alone and doesn't do much outside her apartment. She lives on a limited income and can't always get around as well as she'd like to. I ask her how long she's been living alone.
"Thirty-three years," she says. "But I'm not a widow. Nope. I was married. Tried it once. That was enough. Didn't need to do it again."
"Ya, I tried it once too," I tell her, laughing.
"Well then, you know better now don't you?" She smiles wryly. There's a wisdom behind her smile that I am beginning to see in my own reflection of late. Sometimes, a smile can say so much.
Our talk turns to books. She loves books and proceeds to tell me about some of her favorites. There is easily about forty years between us but there is something in her eyes that knows no age. She talks about books, about life, with the same aliveness that I feel now.
She tells me about her life, her children, her family growing up, and then she talks about her own mortality. "So many people think that when they die they're going to someplace else. Not me. I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to the ground when I die and that's it. That's it. I don't wanna go anywhere else. And besides, there's nowhere else to go. No heaven. No hell. I think deep down, everyone knows this. If we're honest with ourselves, we all know. We all know that this is it. We just have to be honest with ourselves."
She leans back in her chair and laughs out loud, "But I'm not ready to go yet. My kids don't have enough money to bury me!"
I laugh. These are the moments I live for. When someone lets me into their story and shares a glimpse of what life is like for them, how they see the world, what meaning they derive from their existence. I find it soul-affirming. A reminder of what it means to be human.
And then, later today, I danced. I attended a Journey Dance class. I blogged about this after my first experience with it a few weeks back. It is a free-form dance experience which I can best describe as a moving meditation. For me, it is a most freeing, grounding, expanding, movement experience, which connects me to my body and spirit in a deep and profound way. After two hours of moving to the beat of my heart and the breath of my soul, I left the studio feeling as if I was walking on air, and at the same time, very connected and rooted.
Dance is one of those experiences that really gets me in touch with the very primal, goddess-like aspect of myself. At one point in the dance process, we were moving around the room like warriors, making guttural noises from our core and awakening the deep fire within. I felt transported to a time in my genetic code where my ancestors would have danced around a fire, invoking the spirits to bring them rain or healing or wisdom. Very cool. Very, very cool.
I can feel something very base, very instinctive, very pure and very old arising from my soul. It showed up today in this beautiful, old woman who sat down at my table and shared her journey with me. And then, in the journey I took through dance. And now, in this post I am sharing with you.
This is the beauty of being human. This is the beauty of story. This is the beauty of now.
And so it is.