It is rainy and gray outside.
My friend wrote me an email and told me that he still feels some of the magic from rainy days that he felt in his childhood.
seeing the exact color of the grey outside through the window and having that color seep in through the house, and hearing the patter of the raindrops on the roof and the skylights
I envy that. He is capable of doing that with many things. Just seeing them as they are. He can experience what happens in front of him and nothing more. Mindfulness, you might call it.
I’m not very good at mindfulness. Or, I don’t know. Sometimes I am. I can lose myself in books and movies. I can lose myself in a bite of delicious food. I am capable of pure joy, although I don’t experience it as often as I used to. How can I? The older I get, the more I understand consequences.
In many ways consequences are the enemy of joy. Small children experience pure joy in part because what happens to them means nothing more than it means. They are all texture and no context. They have no caveats.
I’ve walked through the rain too many times. Waited at a bus stop without a shelter while my jeans soaked through and I knew I was going to have to work for hours with soaked jeans that would never really dry until I got home. Just looking at the rain gives me some of that, even though the color is beautiful.
It’s beautiful in this room right now, as the soft light through the window and the soft light of my monitor mingle into a white-grayness, washing over my fingers as I type. But there’s more than just that when I look out the window. There’s also wet jeans.
My friend is not incapable of understanding consequences. Far from it. I think he’s a more consequence-oriented thinker than most people about a great many things. But in some ways he’s like a child. In a good way.
Sometimes I try to practice mindfulness. But it’s hard when thoughts of consequences trigger your anxiety. And it’s hard when you recognize the importance of consequences. Children experience pure joy, but they make terrible accountants.
I don’t think there’s a perfect balance. How can there be? It’s an imperfect universe, and the human brain is the messiest thing we have ever discovered. I know I can’t stop thinking about consequences. And I can’t live without pure, unadulterated, consequence-free joy.
My mind tells me that if can’t achieve balance, then why bother. But that is trap. The quest for perfection is poison to mindfulness. You have to leave the warmth of the fire eventually and trek out into the storm. That’s where the future lies. But you can’t live in the storm.
So for now, I will just sit by the fire, look out the window, and enjoy the rain.