All my life I’ve experienced spontaneous moments when I find myself thinking “God, I love my life!” They don’t occur while I’m gazing at the Taj Mahal or the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but when I’m quietly savoring some unexpected, simple joy. I remember such a feeling years ago, arriving home from a bike ride on a perfect autumn day.
I had another one of those experiences today, driving home from a late afternoon movie, reliving the simple pleasures of the day:
I’ve fooled around with meditation a long time. But it became a regular part of my life five years ago when I found a technique that helped me sleep (earlier post: http://bit.ly/sbS6BV). I’ve been doing this meditation when I wake up in the middle of the night for a bathroom break, and it’s now a favorite time of day. The house is quiet. No distractions. It’s as good as — maybe better than — sleeping.
I had an 11am haircut appointment, which I cancelled because I was feeling drowsy and didn’t want to drive downtown that way. At 10:30, a good friend called to talk about a problem he was having. After the call, in the unexpected hour of free time I’d suddenly acquired, I sat in my “reading rocking chair” in the living room, looked out the window and did NOTHING. (A few smooth jazz CDs enhanced the mood: David Benoit’s “Shadows,” “Late Night Sax,” Johnny Hodge’s “Triple Play,” and the “Benoit/Freeman Project.”) Earlier this week, I had enjoyed a similar experience of zen-like quietness on my back porch, which was similarly wonderful.
I must keep creating these happy, quiet, do-nothing daydreams… though I suppose “contemplation” sounds classier.
The Movie “The Way”
I was planning to take in the movie J. Edgar at the Avalon, a neighborhood nonprofit movie house, but I took a nap after lunch and missed the start time. Instead, I saw The Way. When the movie opens, uptight father Tom (played by 70-year-old Martin Sheen) is driving only-son Daniel, (played by real-life son Emilio Estevez) to the airport, where Daniel plans to begin yet another one of his restless wanderings — a source of friction between the two.
Later, Tom learns that Daniel has died during a storm in the Pyrenees, at the start of his planned 500-mile trek on El Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James) — the route pilgrims have taken for centuries to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, the northwest corner of Spain.
When he arrives in France, Tom decides to take Daniel’s ashes and complete the journey himself. Along “the way,” he is joined by three traveling companions who are, like Tom, also looking for some new meaning in their lives: an overweight, boisterous Dutchman who wants to lose the weight that has kept his wife from having sex with him; a sullen, angry Canadian who wants to conquer her nicotine addiction; and an Irishman with writer’s bloc.
The stunning cinematography in the movie reminded me of the trip that my pal Daniel and I took in May, 2007, when we drove eastward across northern Spain — from the Atlantic to Provence in France. We made our own “easier” pilgrimage to Santiago de Composteda, where I took this tilted photo of the ornate church: the final destination of the pilgrims along “The Way”:
We didn’t see a High Mass like the spectacular one shown in the movie, with the huge incense burner swinging up and down the aisle. And we zipped along at 75mph on highways that paralleled much of El Camino de Santiago. I wished we’d had a month or two (and for me, the stamina) to experience this journey as pilgrims have for centuries.
Some reviewers have dismissed The Way as “treacly sweet.” But hey! Some of us like “treacly sweet.”
I thoroughly enjoyed it.
So, a Normal Day Becomes a “Love My Life!” Day’
Driving home from the movie, I thought how the movie ended where it began… just as my own special day ended where it began: with love for family and friends. Now, how treacly sweet can you get?!