Friday, December 8, 2006

On Subtlety

For several years I've been wanting to write a discourse on the importance of sublety in one's life. So much emphasis is placed on the big passions, the "Ah-ha" moments, that I think people take the subtle interactions for granted.

Why is finding a soul-mate so important? Isn't it possible that the witty banter with the check-out person is just as important to one's quality of life? Can't a tiny flirtation with a stranger on a train be as passionate as an affair that lasts for years?

Part of the reason I think about subtlety is that I've always struggled with committing to the big things. I have so many interests, how can I decide which one to spend the time and money on to pursue a graduate degree; I love so many people for so many different reasons, how can I limit myself to the life they want to live; I have lived in so many places, how can I settle in one city and in one house for the rest of my life?

Another reason I look to the little things is that in what often felt like a tumultuous childhood, I always held onto subtle images and feelings for comfort. When I was very young, I would close my eyes and imagine the moment when the organ started playing in the church, not in an overtly religious way, but simply to remember how that first chord would reverberate in your mind and in your body, causing chills to run down your spine.

When I was a little older there was a particular day that I was feeling low, so I headed out to our neighbor's property - Sam - somehow making it past the stray dogs he collected without them barking. I settled down by the lake that backed up to his property to practice my oboe. It was late afternoon, so the sun was casting a raking light across the pond, highlighting the ripples, as a gaggle of geese were floating through. I can still picture every detail of that moment, and can feel the peace and contentment flow back into my body when I return to that memory.

Isn't it possible that the memory of that afternoon, as simple as it was, will continue to be the moment that I return to in times of trouble. I just want to remember that an evening like I had last night - coming home after a long, trying day, having a good workout, a decent meal and then settling on the sofa to watch a movie with a handsome actor and enjoying the feeling of the yarn passing between my fingers as I knit a scarf - that those moments of contentment can be enough and maybe a better indicator of my happiness than the big things: the lovers, the wedding, the career, and the births.

No comments: