This morning, I am tired. I stayed up too late last night, slept only lightly. W., between us in bed, wakes up in the night and says: I am lonely. Will anyone talk to me?
Oh, my son.
I dreamed of a man I once knew. He built a house with his own hands. He showed me around the rooms of his house, this house he built. The stairs were wide and steep. “Climb higher,” he told me in my dream.
He was training to be a pilot. His father was so proud. My son, the pilot, he would say, to distinguish from his other son, the non-pilot. The non-pilot eventually learned to sail ships. Captains, both – of sea and sky.
The sea captain travels from port to port all year long, leaves his wife, their daughters on land. The pilot took his wife to a country where she doesn’t speak the language. Many years ago, their mother had said to me, as we stood in the kitchen, garnishing platters: “Someday you will be in our family, no?”
So many people from long ago have drifted back into focus this year – whether in dreams or through bits of pixels and light, or in real, actual, flesh-bound life. Were I superstitious, I might think this an ominous sign, that the universe was gathering up my past, so that I might make some peace with it, once before the great beyond. Before a kind of rapture.
“An ample life,” was the term my friend R. had used, when I asked him about happiness. “Why ask about happiness? You have an ample life.”
If happiness can be measured in the great wide armfuls of our friends. If we can be left breathless by moments of unexpected serenity, when the mind is finally, blessedly, still. If the simple pleasures of a conversation, the exchange of words between people, can fill us up when we are empty (I am lonely. Will anyone talk to me?) then yes, this is an ample life indeed.