I spent the latter part of the beautiful Sunday afternoon hanging out with friends carving pumpkins. I could not have imagined a more perfect day to pop my pumpkin-carving cherry. It had been raining all day and the wind was howling as I ran to Peter’s front door. They were standing by the counter and have already started cleaning out their pumpkins (and drinking their beers). Marley ran up to greet me wanting to slobber all over my face. Peter had a wood fire going and music playing. Oh yeeah, this is going to be good.
I’m glad that nobody coddled me or offered to cut up my pumpkin for me. It made the experience entirely mine. Somewhere in between eating cheese pizza, dissing Minnesota’s pumpkin-carving talent (or lack thereof!) and joshing around, Peter started playing this lewd standup MP3 by this comedian Nick Something or Other. A snippet of the interesting conversation:
“Trish, does this inappropriate conversation offend you? We can listen to something else.”
“What do you mean? I’m not as innocent as you think!”
“Well, it’s just that Minnesota said….”
“That you’re kind of….”
“Ugh. I don’t want to know.”
“I know you don’t drink beer, but can I get you a drink?”
“Do you have soda?”
He looks in the fridge, shuffles bottles around…
“Umm.. no… I wish I had milk or something.”
“Milk?!? I’m not a little kid!”
That is just HILARIOUS. And the funnier thing is they weren’t being mean about it. They were seriously being respectful and going out of their way to make sure that they don’t do or say anything that will make me uncomfortable. It was rather sweet in their genuineness and intentions not to offend.
In a couple hours, we were done! Behold our masterpiece (mine's the little monster on the far right):
It had gotten dark by the time we had finished. The room was only lit by the fireplace and our jack-o-lanterns. We all sat on the couch, childish grins on our faces, mesmerized by the fire while the wind howled and the leaves rustled outside.
Later that night, I walked into my house with the heavy pumpkin in my arms which I’ve decided I would give as a present to my friend’s kids who I’m seeing in the Bay Area this weekend. As I walked in the door, I thought about how much joy there is in doing things for the first time – monumental or miniscule. Then I got to thinking about how short my not-so-bucket list is, which I take as a good sign that I don’t really need to accumulate and collect to make my life meaningful. I honestly believe that it already is. Meaningful. Purposeful. Not entirely joyful all the time, but I accept it for what it is. I don’t believe in keeping a list of “things to do before I die” because the reality is, we must be prepared to die at any given moment (this is very heavy in Eastern teachings). Tomorrow does not exist. I often say that I am ready to die for the most part (well, at least conceptually, but who really knows?). But then I wonder if the true test is not death but dismemberment. Whether the measure is that at any given time, you are ready to lose a limb, lose one of the five senses, lose your mental faculties. When you die, it all ends. But when you get decapitated, mutilated and maimed, you are technically still here, but your ability and power to do things as you’ve always done them before are no longer available to you.
I am fearful of this more than dying, to be truthful. This makes me realize how I am deeply attached to the things my body and my mind enable me to enjoy and experience. I could not imagine not being able to dance. I could not imagine not being able to do Yoga asanas and attempting to do cartwheels. I cannot imagine not being able to look in people’s eyes and penetrate their souls. I cannot imagine not being able to take a walk when it just rained and inhaling the intoxicating fragrant smell of wet pine.
So all I am left to do is cherish these things while they are here…to really surrender to the present at any given moment, as if I’m doing, seeing, tasting, smelling, hearing, feeling everything for the first and last time simultaneously…