'The Grace of Solitude'
Harry, played by Jack Nicholson in "Something's Gotta Give" (2003), is a 63-year-old bachelor. He has spent his life chasing money and younger women. He and his latest young girlfriend plan a tryst at her mother's beach house. While there, Harry has a heart attack. After leaving the hospital, he must stay with the mother, Erica, played by Diane Keaton, for he cannot travel during his recovery.
Harry and Erica are walking the beach as part of Harry's rehabilitation. Though previously adversarial, both have decided to try to be civil. Each has looked up the other on the internet to discover the other's past and accomplishments. Harry tells Erica there are over eight thousand websites mentioning her. She is flattered, while assuming this an exaggeration. She informs him of her looking him up. Erica says, "I know you grew up in L.A., which I thought nobody did. You started your own record label at twenty-nine. Very impressive. Sold it at forty. Even more impressive. Then, you started a magazine, dabbled in the internet, and, then, invested in a small record company, which you turned into the second-largest hip-hop label in the world!" Harry says he is exhausted listing to her recite his life. Agreeing, Erica says, "The truth is, it goes by fast, doesn't it?" Harry, looking up, replies, "In the blink of an eye."
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We tend to postpone being alive to the future, the distant future we don't know when. It's as if now is not the moment to be alive. We may never be alive at all in our entire life.
*Thich Nhat Hanh. How to Relax.
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Life gives itself fully to us. Life has given us a body, for example. Yet, we overtax the nervous system with stress and activity. We are socialized to push the body beyond its natural limits rather than live in harmony with the body and, so, the natural world.
Can you slow down to allow the body time to heal itself, restore itself? To be awake to the wonders about you? To live with presence, gratitude, and awe? Is that possible?
Even better possibly than more prolonged periods of meditation, we can schedule brief periods of mindful breathing at intervals during our day. These pauses are invitations for the body to restore its balance, to rest. In a short time, even a few minutes or less, we can reorient ourselves to the mystery from which we live.
If we do not find this time for refuge, are we living? Or are we only functioning, being driven by an incessant need to get something done? ... and what for? Possibly, that is an important question for most of us, "Why do I delay my life, and, so, miss the joy of being fully alive and in communion with Life?"
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*(C) Brian K. Wilcox, 2021
*Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, can be ordered through major online booksellers or the publisher AuthorHouse. The book is a collection of poems based on wisdom traditions, predominantly Christian, Buddhist, and Sufi, with extensive notes on the poetry's teachings and imagery.