“If I had known the last dirty diaper was the last one I would change, I would have seen the beauty in that diaper.”
I remember hearing a woman, a great grandmother, say this about her life. That looking back on it, what she wished she had done more of was to have seen the beauty in the mundane, the everyday.
If we knew that this was our last moment to treasure, would we experience it differently? Savour it more? Notice all of it with only love and gratitude?
Or, is living with such intensity too tiring, too never-wracking? Is constant awareness to the sublime and mundane moments of life a drain on happiness?
I don’t know for sure.
I do know that from where I sit this morning at my desk, the morning sun bruises the sky pink, purple and blue. Ice covers a vast expanse of the river, the trees stand bare and naked.
And I feel grateful for the experience of the moment.
If this were my last moment this, and so much more, is all I would have seen and heard and felt and known in the now.
If this were my last moment, would it make any difference if I was grateful for the sunrise or the recycling bin I dragged out to the end of the drive for pick-up this morning?
The beauty of this morning embraces me. I breathe deeply into the now of what is, my breathing slows and I feel present, aware, connected to all — the air, the trees, the river, the floor beneath my feet, the desk upon which my arms rest as I type.
And, while I don’t know for sure it is not, I am confident this is not my last moment.
I continue typing, grateful for having had the luxury of time to appreciate the beauty all around me.
There are 7+billion humans on this planet breathing the same air, experiencing the same moment in time, yet seeing and experiencing it differently. Countless multitudes of my fellow humans do not have the luxury of savouring the moment. Their moment is filled with strife, scarcity, violence, disease, war, rape, fear, darkness, famine, injustice, prejudice, racism, discrimination…
And as I write that last sentence I feel tears prickling at the edge of my eyelids.
We are a beautiful planet made messy by our complex human race to have more, create bigger, succeed in our excesses while others fall behind, get left in the dust of our constant quest for life as we want it to be.
I stopped and gave thanks for this moment right now and in my gratitude, felt the gap between my moment and the moment experienced by billions of others on this planet.
It is a wide gap. A gap that cannot be narrowed just by my thinking I want it to.
Yet, I wonder.
If we all expressed our gratitude for this one breath at the same time, whether on the exhale or the inhale, would we create a tsunami of gratitude cascading around the globe? Would we change the tides of war and abuse, greed and excess that dominate headlines?
Would we make a difference if each of us, for this one moment, paused in whatever we are doing, and took one breath together?
We are 7+ billion humans on this planet. Each moment we experience is shared by others. And every moment we humans have is shared by the mice skittering through the grasses, the chickadees flitting through the bushes, the water flowing beneath the ice, the trees welcoming the warmth of the morning sun no matter how feeble its rays this January morning.
I shall savour the rays of the sun this morning. Unlike Scarlet O’Hara saying good-bye to Rex, I cannot leave thinking about it, the planet and all its inhabitants, tomorrow. The planet needs me now. It needs each of us, right now, to do our part in saving the world.
About the Painting
I love to go back through some of my old works to see how my creative expression has changed, morphed, expanded.
This painting was created in 2011. It is not one of my favourites – there are so many things I see in it that I would do differently, I would change… I keep it in my studio as a reminder that creative expression is not about perfection or even beauty, it’s about freedom, truth, taking risks and allowing the experience to move me beyond the mundane into the sacred space of creation.
If all I can leave behind is my art and words, let them be gifts that express my gratitude for my life with beauty and Love.