There is a great divide between life as it is experienced, and life as it is remembered. Vast stretches of my days are indistinguishable from each other. These are the common days: days spent getting up, going to work, and meeting the demands to make a living and provide for my family. Even without working, there were thousands of weekend days of chores, visits with others, relaxing in the yard, and watching ballgames. So looking backwards it’s hard to distinguish one day from another — the common sameness of my days all blend together into a single plain I roamed across in the course of my life.
There are also days that stand out: moments of light happiness that stand above all the other days, days stand out in my memory like sunlit peaks seen from far away. There were times of despair as well, days that live on as scars in my memory. So my memory is selective — looking back at my life I tend to see my life in three equal classes of days: the common, the joyful and the painful.
But they are not at all equal. The common days far outnumber the others.
It is said that people on their deathbed never wish they had spent more time in the office. What they wind up regretting is missing time with their family.
But in my case, I suspect what I’ll regret most is not fully appreciating all the plain days I had. There were so many of them! Someday, when I feel my breathing start to labor, and I feel the sudden panic that I have only a few more gulps of air left in my life, the common, forgotten moments from any boring Tuesday will come alive with the splendor of a spring sunrise. And this time, with the clarity that my last moments are falling away, they’ll seem like all I ever wanted. What seemed at the time like drudgery, the sameness of an ever-present burden, will now seem like the greatest abundance. There were so many moments of quiet on the train, walking into work, and heading home in the evening, tired in the twilight. So many departures, and so many returns.
They were all around me, those common, everyday moments. I lived within them like a fish that is unaware of the water that sustains it. Sleeping and waking, walking or sitting, angry or happy, hopeful or despairing — all of these moments rode along in the current pushed by one single beating heart. My own.
At the end, I will turn back. I will finally know the Grace that had always surrounded me, now that I struggle within the net pulled by the Fisher of Men.
I pray each and every day. This was today’s.