Let there be more to all we are

copyright thisoldhouse.com

“Life isn’t measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away.”

I thought those movie moments of lifetimes flashing before someone’s unsuspecting eyes were simply drama-enhancing tricks sponsored by the makers of Kleenex and waterproof mascara.

Not so. Those moments are real. I know because I had one today. I opened the door for a nice man who handed me a green paper gift bag. I looked inside and picked up the small white box with Clarky’s name on it.

“That’s it? That’s all there is?” I asked. You’d think I was expecting a delivery of the Lincoln Memorial in a bag.

He replied with an awkward yes, and gave me a form to sign. Kitty’s ashes delivered.

“That’s what we all are in the end…isn’t it…” he offered as an afterthought. And then he left.

I stood in the doorway for a bit, trying to steady myself, unsure of what to do next. Then I turned around, walked inside, closed the door, looked at the bag again and there it was…the movie moment.

I saw everyone I’ve ever known, both in memories and projections of the future, a river carrying countless photographs, video clips and sounds, rushing by at great speed towards these tiny little boxes with names on them. One by one, the lids would close until the last one closed and that was it…all those lifetimes squeezed into little white boxes.

And I don’t know how, but I suddenly ended up on my knees…and the tears came…and I wanted to shout to the whole world like some prophet or savior: “please don’t mess the good things up…please don’t waste them…”

But of course there was no shout. And I am no prophet or savior.

In the late afternoon, with the sun gently setting, the green bag, the little white box and I went into another room. I thought that’s not what we all are in the end!…or at least it doesn’t have to be. There’s so much room for beautiful, even if terribly difficult stories. The problem is of course we can’t make these stories alone. We need other characters to speak, hear, see, do and remember by our side. We need a little courage and above all, some measure of loyalty, genuine willingness, and a lot of love.

You’d think everyone knew this…and not ending up in a little white box at the end without a beatiful and genuine story would be everyone’s worst fear, wouldn’t you?

Apparently not. So many are not scared of the scary things in life…or if they are, they somehow manage to numb those fears and jump on the emptiness wagon like drugged mice running to an electrically charged ferris wheel in some sinister behavioral experiment.

So many live as if they have some spare life in a safe deposit box somewhere to be used when this one runs out. The writer gave me a good analogy…that of an athlete renouncing their sport because they’re afraid there’s not going to be room in their house to display all the trophies and gold medals they might win. And not wanting to be bothered to dust them all on occasion.

It seems to me at the end, there is as much room in a little white box for as great a story, as many trophies and medals as we chose to make room for in our lives. And no, a few ounces of ashes is not what we all are in the end, unless we choose to be.

The sun has set, and tonight there is no wind, no rain, no crazy happy birds chirping by accident in the darkness. The poet yawns, the writer goes to Google something, and I sit here next to the little white box, wishing I could shout out to the whole world like some prophet or savior: “please don’t mess the good things up…please don’t waste them…”

But of course there is no shout. And I am no prophet or savior.

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