Prompt #16:

When good is near you, when you have life in yourself, it is not by any known or accustomed way; you shall not discern the foot-prints of any other; you shall not see the face of man; you shall not hear any name;—— the way, the thought, the good, shall be wholly strange and new. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Can you remember a moment in your life when you had life in yourself and it was wholly strange and new? Can you remember the moment when you stopped walking a path of someone else, and started cutting your own?

Write about that moment. And if you haven’t experienced it yet, let the miracle play out in your mind’s eye and write about that moment in your future.

(Prompt Author: Bridget Pilloud)

 

Response:

That tingly sparkly effervescent exultation of having life in myself is a feeling I know well. I’ve been lucky to feel that several times. For me, it is almost like a cat purring; I feel rapid fluttery vibration way in my core, a true physical sensation, like all of that fizzy life will come out and stream out of my eyes or emanate like an energy off of my skin. It is almost like my essence glows, as though I could laugh and laugh, and yet it is also a knowing, a sense of connection with the universe.

I remember feeling this once driving home from Christmas Eve long ago, looking out at the stars from one of the back side windows in my parents’ car. Those stars and all of their infinity made me feel as though my soul could take off and fly right up to them. It is the sublime and the beautiful merging into one sensation inside of the mind and heart.

Did this feeling come from experiencing something wholly strange and new? No, many people have gazed up and thought about the stars in the limitless universe.Yet feeling that unique life-welling-up inside sensation requires, I think, that we approach life as though we have new eyes for every experience under the sun. Perhaps it requires looking at our experiences as though we are “strangers in a strange land” ready to learn and to soak up everything put before us, as though we had never seen it or experienced it before. Vitality presumes a constant readiness of the body, mind, and heart.

One of the first times I remember feeling life inside of me was when I was a little girl with Grandma and Grandpa Mitchell at a duck pond nearby their house. I was walking with my Grandpa Mitchell, one of the finest men I have ever known. A midwesterner with a strong work ethic, who never stopped making jokes or finding levity in life even when he was in his last months. A grandpa who came to us not through blood but by choice, my grandpa who swam with us and barbecued with us, who danced to The Chipmunks’ Christmas with my brother, my Grandparent’s Day grandpa, my dance recital grandpa. Now as an adult I appreciate him more for what he really was at his essence, though it has been thirteen years since we said goodbye.

Grandpa Mitchell took me walking and I remember sitting down in some shady part near the pond. We saw a duck waddling close to the water, close to us. Grandpa Mitchell encouraged me to get the duck to come to me. I do not know how we did it exactly, since ducks at ponds are usually more skittish and not known to come over to people (especially those who no longer have bread). But all of the sudden, the white duck was sitting in my lap, curled up on me, letting me stroke its feathers. It was as though some magic had taken place. Never since has a duck ever approached me in this way again. Yet for that moment, my connection as a child to this semi-wild creature was so palpable, like a gentleness passing between us, a lack of fear, a oneness.

In recent years, I have felt this vitality giving birth to my children. Both of them had unmedicated/non-epidural births, and every sensation, especially as I grew closer to that beautiful relief of pushing them out, brought me to the sublime. If there is one pure place where beauty and pain combine, it is childbirth, the source of life-giving. I cannot think of a moment when I felt more alive than those moments of bearing my children.

Finally, here is a photograph of a place that wells up in me a feeling of total passion:

This is a picture of the Point Reyes Lighthouse, which my mom and I first experienced (we have since been twice) on one of our trips to Berkeley to see my brother for his July birthday each summer that he took summer session there. Something about this place speaks to my essence. In fact, I have been feeling its call on my heartstrings again, a loud call, as though I must see it again soon. It is one of the places I imagine in my mind to restore myself.

There have been other moments, too, of feeling life exultant and insistent and surging through me. Are they moments of, or beyond, joy? Who can say? I think it must have something to do with being excited to live, to see what comes next.

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