Is the world always shining? Are we?
How often do we walk around with our heads down? With the lights off? What happens when we can’t see, how do we come to realize we are walking around in the dark? When do the lights come on? What happens, who is there, what are we doing when we suddenly see, when we pick our heads up and take notice of the world shining for us?
When do we feel the world shine? How often do we see the shine? Of an early morning, half asleep? How often do we notice the shine in our loved ones? How often in strangers? When do we, do we ever, follow the shine? Let ourselves be carried away by the shine?
“—such moments arrive trailing their shine, flagging their ruin. Without words they come calling and let their rogue impression be held. That taste in the air of musk and hunger, the feel of a street’s very hardened skin—such is my latest proof: there exist ways of listening a listener hardly understands. In the despoiled and radiant now, these moments approach—the presence of ease and the presence of ruin, a lit stillness, a dense grief, impossible to unknow—like any great love or loss taken into the body.”
- Lia Purpura, “In the Despoiled & Radiant Now”
As Purpura says, these moments of awareness often arrive trailing their source. Why do we not follow more often? And at what point do we stop following? When do we lose interest in the shine of immediacy all around us? Why not listen, feel, taste, touch, and smell, even as we can’t make sense of the sensation we are encountering? Isn’t the presence of the shine enough to hold our attention?
More importantly, once lost, how do we recover the desire to chase the shine? And in turn, relearn how to shine back?
I had a work meeting this week that lit me up. I didn't want the call to end. I could have talked for another hour. The shine was everywhere. I left feeling brighter, feeling lighter, wanting to carry the shine forward into the rest of my day.
But then I throttled it. Why? I felt some embarrassment: I only just met this person, there’s no way he felt the same shine in the meeting, right? How could I feel this lit up by one conversation with a stranger?
But why not accept this moment as it arrives, without question? Why not celebrate it, explore it, call it out in whatever rudimentary way we can muster, so we can share this brilliance and work to understand more about why and how it happened? Instead, I placed this gift in a drawer, filed it away with all the other meetings of the day, and learned nothing, and stopped shining.
We must embrace these moments. We must celebrate them and share these experiences with others, especially with our loved ones, most especially with our kids, to understand their arrival and increase the amount of time we get to spend lit up.
But most importantly, we have to allow ourselves to be lit up and teach our kids how to do the same. We have to stop and shine, linger as long as possible, look on the world with the shine sparkling in our eyes, curling our lips into a smile, and allow ourselves to stand a little taller, stretch into the person we are becoming. Each moment we allow ourselves to shine is a micro-miracle, for us and those around us, that lights the path forward.