It's interesting to have new eyes when you wake up. Same scene: the couch with stacks of books, pillows arranged just so, the red blanket balled in a corner no longer needed after the chill of the night. Same room and yet, more hopeful today. Less of 4 confining walls imprisoning me in isolation, and somehow, today it's wider, breezy, slight joys wafting in through the blinds (note to self-clean blinds...). So immediately i'm trying to figure out what makes today different and how can i bottle up this hope to have on hand for the dull mornings?
Rejecting the idea of a magic apartment, it must be the new eyes that i greet the day with. My instinct, rather than enjoying the lightness of the day, reverts back to when i was a kid - always saving the best for last, postponing joy in an effort to make sure there would be some left over for tomorrow.
I was the kid who eat her halloween candy in order from most hated to most loved. The flaw in this method was that if we could only eat one piece a day, by the time i got to the treasures-the sugar babies and milk duds-most of the time they were hard and stale, crushed under the weight of all of the other junk we had collected. It wasn't only with halloween candy though. Always wanting to capture the treat, to save it up, having no faith that tomorrow would bring new surprises, new favorites, new gifts. Plus, there seemed to be this perverse pride in abstaining from the prize, as if deprivation equalled strength while indulgence was something to be hidden.
A year ago, I was cleaning out the closet in my childhood bedroom to make space for future guests to stay (which caused the five year old in me to want to pout and beg for her own room to remain untouched, a shrine to a childhood not ready to be left behind. Never being the kid that threw tantrums, i figured it was in poor taste to start now) So armed with trash bags, i began sorting.
At the back of my closet was a red plastic briefcase stowed away from when i turned 8. That year it was the prize of the birthday gifts - containing all sorts of shiny and glittery papers and crafty things that seemed too precious to touch. I had been saving it, not wanting to waste my favorite gift...and so 20 years later it stood, covered in dust. And while i remember all of the excitement and ideas i had about what i could make and create, now it lay useless, no longer holding the magic that it once had. I almost opened the kit out of loyalty to that patient little gift, but instead i just felt sad; a sadness that isn't easily explained or fixed because it's a heaviness of lost laughter and wasted joy. It's a yearning to hold her and convince her that it's ok to be happy today because tomorrow will bring something new. And then the sadness deepens as i know that even as an adult, i still do this-promising myself joy if only i finish everything on the never-ending "to do" list, skipping out on pleasures that don't seem essential or believing that i must spend my happiness carefully, in small amounts in order to ration it for future years.
It's the false belief that there isn't enough to go around, that what we have today is all we will ever have. I see that 8 year old still having a hand in my life, believing that the money in the bank must last a lifetime and therefore any non-essentials are indulgence. She lacks, as do I sometimes, the belief that the world is made new again and unforseen joys await us.
I see her in the way that i saw my favorite sweater to wear, holding out for the perfect time to wear it, until spring has come and it's time for t-shirts again. The way i save my favorite foods to eat for later until i'm too full to enjoy them. I'm not sure that the entire life motto has to be "eat dessert first"but i do know it's time.
Time to play with the best toys and use the favorite perfume. To stop saving up pleasures for the perfect time or simply just saving them for later, because later never comes - lest i find myself 20 years old living a grey life all by my own choosing.
And so today, with the glimmer of hope, i set outside to breathe in the sun, trying my very best to ignore the whispers of tasks and chores i have yet to do. Do i really need to dust my blinds before i can go out and enjoy the weather? or boil some eggs? The emails and the craigslist job search will wait. The sunshine will not. I will not allow this to be another day where i postpone a joy waiting at my feet until i finish being busy with nonessentials, only to realize that i've missed the sunset. The tasks will get done - they always do...and the job, well a day without craigslist won't be the end of the world. And if it is, then at least i got to walk in the sun, sit in the library, and enjoy the warmth and joy. This is the gift i give that 8 year old. Learning how to enjoy the prize today with the faith that tomorrow will bring new gifts if i can find the new eyes to see them with.