This week I’ve awoken and walked outside into springtime. There are dandelions running riot over my lawn and the air is warm and humid. A favorite moment in greeting each day has been to witness the dew clinging to the blades of grass as the day begins. It rained last night so everything was permeated with hydration and the promise of sunlight; together, they form live-giving and sustaining necessities. It’s been the type of memory that I want to imprint on my soul, a brief moment where the season feels encapsulated in a dewdrop. What sensory memory speaks “springtime” to your heart?
My Daily Remembrance cards are designed to get me thinking about the past in a way that promotes healing and acceptance. For today’s prompt, I focused on someone who had a positive influence on my life. The individual, let’s call her Susan, was a middle-aged single neighbor of mine growing up. She lived by herself in a nearby apartment and allowed me to come over on occasion to chat.
What endeared Susan to me was that on one of my birthdays, she gave me a gift a day for every year of my age. I was a child most people overlooked because I was extremely quiet and shy. I was painfully self-conscious and lacked the social skills needed to make good conversation. To have someone not only see me, but see me enough to care and to go out of her way for me, meant the world to me.
I kept each of her gifts and felt a sense of connection whenever I saw them. One of my favorites was a series of piggy-banks in bright colors and shapes. (I loved anything rainbow as a child, so discovering I was part of the queer community felt only natural!). I unfortunately lost the physical objects when I had to cut ties with my family of origin, but the memory of those excited moments of wondering what treasure I would get the next day has stuck with me.
I tried to pass on the good feelings with a similar process of gift-giving to a friend of mine after a loss, but it wasn’t well-received (complicated story). I think it isn’t the exact specifications of gift-giving that matter so much, but rather the spirit of generosity and thoughtfulness from which I want to learn. Who gave you a gift that really meant something to you? Who have you known personally who has inspired you?
Given that I experience complex PTSD, dissociation, anxiety and depression, reminiscing is an activity in which I rarely engage. My memory processes are disrupted and I struggle to organize and verbalize my experiences. When I attempted today’s simple pleasure, I was pleased that I was able to come to a particular memory, one which I think foreshadowed my future enjoyment of nature, community and mindfulness.
A few decades ago, I went on a summer youth trip out of state (still within the U.S.). Youth group was not a place where I felt welcomed or understood, so I was very nervous to spend a week on this trip. We stayed in a city in a southern part of the U.S. in a large, old house where we slept on mattresses on the floor. Our meals were served family-style, which was a huge problem for me as I was a vegetarian at the time and there was meat in everything. I ended up subsisting on Pringles (TM) from a local grocery store, to the point where I could not eat them for years afterwards because I developed an aversion from my over-indulgence.
At one point, a few friends and I asked for permission to walk to the store. As we were returning, the heavens opened and we were caught in a deluge of rain. It was summertime, so it was the sort of warm precipitation that soaks but doesn’t chill a person. We had of course not prepared in any way for this and started half-heartedly running back to the house, laughing hysterically. We passed an office building and a few of its occupants looked out at us and smiled. I felt totally present in that moment, joyful that I was experiencing spontaneous silliness with other people. There was just the slightest hint of danger and rebellion in our actions, coupled with a sense of solidarity and acceptance of our (drenched) fate.
What stands out to me about my memory is that there is no way to set up a scenario to make something like it occur again. Rather, all I can do is put myself in new situations with other people and see what happens. The deepening of my consciousness that I encounter when I tap into the connectedness of humanity is the most profound spiritual experience I’ve ever had and it is one that requires a divine sparkle of “here, right now” that cannot be forced. I anticipate with joy the next time nature brings me together with others.