An exercise I revisit every few years when all the practical indicators get darker and perspective needs to come from intangible things. It’s simultaneously freeing and focusing, and I highly recommend finding that memory of being alive all of your very own.
“I want you to tell me something: after you’re dead and floating around whatever place we go to, what’s going to be your best memory of earth? What one moment for you defines what it’s like to be alive on this planet. Fake yuppie experiences that you had to spend money on, like whitewater rafting or elephant rides in Thailand don’t count. I want to hear some small moment from your life that proves you’re really alive.”
— Douglas Coupland
« 1 »
2002. It snowed the night before, a long windy storm. I was in a supermarket parking lot, in a car, staring at the passenger-side window. The glass seemed fluid, it slowly vibrated and almost bubbled, the snow on it shifting like pebbles on the bottom of a flowing river. Everything else disappeared, everything but that liquefied glass. I thought of how everything must be that fluid and vibrant when you’re a plant – a leaf, a blade of grass, a mushroom. I imagined myself as one, looking up into the world, and noticing how everything moves, everything fluctuates. I wanted to think like a mushroom. I looked at the concrete and the buildings, and saw them for what they were – a temporary, insignificant part of the universe. I saw cityscapes slowly eroding, while trees were quietly raining seeds that would sprout out of the ground to grow just as tall and just as eternal as those that grew before them. We, like everything else in nature, are born with this truth given to us. But mushrooms know, and we forgot. I sat in that car, tired and at peace, being slowly snowed in, and for a little while, I remembered. About the universe, about eternity, and about thinking like a mushroom. Wishing it was easier to remember how to be one every day.
« 2 »
2004. Biting into a raw cherry tomato for the first time and feeling it explode with seeds and juice and life in my mouth.
« 3 »
2006. Flying over the Atlantic on the way from a small island, the plane caught in severe turbulence; the older woman next to me praying in Portuguese, while the pen in my hand bursts with ink from the cabin pressure, the black ink flowing over my fingers onto the notebook on my lap; me, pressing the ink-stained palm into the airplane window, the bright sun and painfully-beautiful blue sky just on the other side of the glass, filling me with total and complete peace and light.
« 4 »
2010. Watching, as if from a great distance, a pair of unconnected hands move across a single piece of paper, each adding a different color in fluid motions – a visual symphony of two.
« 5 »
2013. Standing together on a path near a frozen lake in a city park, crowded even on a winter’s day, bathed in sunlight and surpassing the cold and the people around, one of the few instances when time was truly, fully lost – seconds or hours taken by the sun and photosynthesized right back in a perfect cycle of life and energy exchange evolved beyond mammalian physiology and our primitive link on the earthly food chain. As if an elusive mystery ingredient that was missing for so long that its existence was blurred out of our collective consciousness has suddenly manifested and allowed the formula to finally work. Thoughts were no longer linear or circular, but a static field, pulsating in beautiful serenity. The body was energy and light. I transcended and went beyond.