I want to write, starting here, with a simple sentence, and stretching into near eternity. I want to put everything into words that are greater than the sum of their parts, to write things that make people read them twice, and recommend them to their friends. This could be such writing, if I had unlimited time, and privacy, and rest, and no other obligations. But it is those other things that precipitate, requiring my attention, weaving themselves into the fabric with the well worn pattern I recognize as "my life."
Do we not all feel like circus jugglers sometimes, so focused on our immediate responsibilites, and only snatching glimpes of our successes or failures as they happen? Only in the short bows between stunts do we breathe, look around, and say, "This is where I belong," or "I'm bombing! Where's the closest exit sign?" But, there are no exits, stage left or otherwise, Heavens to Murgatroid! We're halfway down Niagara, and the barrel isn't such a good idea as it seemed. But those are the moments, aren't they? Oh my gosh, I messed up royally and now I have to ride it out to hell or back onto the pavement, whichever way my reflexes take me. In that second when you get back to a safe place, there are few atheists, and you know your life is worth keeping. You know you have other places to go, people to see, blah, blah. But, you also know you stepped out of bounds and got away with it, like the Ref (God) wasn't looking, or something. That's why some people are adrenaline junkies; they make the mistake of thinking the dangerous edge is where life is fullest. But I disagree. It is when you've recovered from a bad mistake, for which you "deserve" severe result, but from which you come away unharmed, but not unaffected. That is a moment when you appreciate your life, You realize where you've come from, and respect what portion of it you might have left. We often whisper a vague prayer thanking someone for not letting us die. And for some reason, these usually become "good" memories.
I look back and remember a time I felt the knee high grass slapping the toes of my shoes as I ran off the road on my motorcycle at about 70mph, drifting down the shoulder toward a ditch as I pulled and fought to drift back towards the road. It felt so smooth, like riding on air, the seat and foot pegs undulating gently. Time slowed, I picked the path I would most likely "shoot for" if I didn't make it. And there was the moment when I felt like I might be winning, still in the grass, but no longer moving away from the road. Now, if the shoulder only stayed smooth till I could get back on the road, I might survive this. A gentle bump, a second of coasting, then the joy as I accelerated and rode away from the spot where I "might" have died.
I was an idiot, riding a motorcycle I hadn't learned to ride well enough to be going so fast on a winding country road. Certainly not with my wife on the back! But it's a good memory now, and a story we share from time-to-time, to illustrate what "we've been through together." But, we've been through more than I could tell, ever. And I appreciate that I have moments like that; life clarifying moments; moments that you are so glad you didn't go through alone, so you can say, "Was that experience amazing and miraculous, or was it just me?" And you know by looking that your life is, and has been, pretty doggone adventurous at times. But see? Most importantly of all, to have learned lessons together, and to have shared a full and rewarding life so far. As you settle into a good marriage, you develop a reflex, for lack of a better word. When that harrowing moment comes, and time slows, you find yourself checking to see where she is. Can I feel her hands around my waist, our helmets bumping together? I'm holding two lives in my foolish hands, and we share a moment on the edge. Afterward, we celebrate together with deep breaths taken in unison, she hugs me, and I say, "Sorry!" like it was some small error. Much like PeeWee Herman trying to convince someone, "I meant to do that."
So, it isn't that I'm denied my needs for privacy, writing, rest, and avoiding all those "obligations." The fun of it is juggling all that, and waiting for the slip. The audience let's you know as they suck in air, and make that sound of shock and fear. In the space of that one breath they hold together, you set about your work, saving the day, as it were. Go Mighty Mouse. And you perform admirably! As they let out their saved breath in a sigh of relief, you realize you are sighing with them. And, one more time, you've come through smarter, stronger, and maybe luckier? Wow, that feels good, doesn't it? Life isn't about the things you do in your time between shows, it's about what you do IN the shows!
I don't really know if I managed it, but I've said all that to say this... I've been lucky to have had 18 years, today, of marriage to the only one with whom I could have ever come this far. She won't let me juggle eggs in the kitchen (dont' ask why), but she would get back on a motorcycle with me without hesitation. Who could ask for more than that?