A BLESSED LIFE
Shortly before his death, I read an article about playwright August Wilson. He had recently been diagnosed with liver cancer. The article reported, 'at 60 Wilson says he is ready to die' because he has led a 'blessed' life.
Blessed life. My stomach knotted up as I thought about a blessed life and how far I felt from blessed. I thought about all the things I didn't have, still wanted to do and continued to worry about. My singing is still undeveloped. I don't write anywhere near as much as I would like. I don't live on a lake. My retirement funds are all in the house.
And then I remembered the epiphany I had a few years ago. I realized that if I died tomorrow I would have lived a life fulfilled because I had never stopped growing, never stopped learning. But blessed?
So I meditated on 'blessed' to see if anything came. To my surprise, out popped a 30-year old memory of a not very dramatic series of events, the few times I rode a horse named Danny at a stable in Rhode island. He was a beautiful dapple-gray draft horse, way too big for me. I am about five feet tall and my legs reached just to the top curve of Danny’s barrel belly. But I loved that horse. He scared me, excited me, and made me feel secure all at the same time. I took him over jumps, or he took me over jumps, easily, with no fuss or bother, maybe a little faster than the instructors would like but with no pushing, swerving or need for urging. All I had to do was lift in the saddle and fly. This big boy was both lively and easygoing and we got along fine. He let me think I was in control.
Feeling blessed after remembering Danny, I went on with my morning, doing errands including a stop at the vet to pick up medication for one of my cats. And I asked to visit with my grand parrot, a cockatoo named Mr. Lil.
Mr. Lil and I met years ago another day at the vet's. I was alone in the waiting room when I heard through a closed door an odd little voice saying 'I love you'. Completely captured, I called back 'oh, I love you too!' (whoever you are). When an attendant came in I asked who I had just exchanged vows with.
The vet introduced me to Mr. Lil, who got his name when it was learned that she was a he, and we have been buddies ever since. Today, when I was trying on a new awareness of what a blessed life is, my half-hour visit as Grammy to Mr. Lil fit right in.
He lifted his wing so I could scratch his armpit. (To each his own). He bobbled his head up and down in a cockatoo dance. He whispered in cockatoo talk. He preened. He flared his crown. He said 'hello' a thousand times and when I gave him back and headed out the door he shouted 'bye' at the top of his lungs. Made me feel special (even blessed).
So what is a blessed life? And how do you get one? Today, I think it's a choice. As a lifelong depressive, my first thought is always what I don't have or haven't done. At age 67, I’m glad I now can choose a different view.
I never wrote a play that got to Broadway. But I rode Danny. Mr. Lil is my friend. I have been transported by the smell of a beach rose. And on a summer night, I have seen the bay ringed by lights like diamonds on a tiara. I have planted a peach tree, an apple tree, a raspberry bush and I have eaten their fruit. A monarch butterfly nearly bumped into me today.
Now I see a way to align with August Wilson's view . He is looking through a different lense than I was. I like his better.