This morning I roused up around four o'clock, which is my normal wake up time; snuggling down under the warm covers a bit to wait for my brain to catch up to my body, my kitty-kat Snookie tip-toed across the comforter up to my face to give me kitty kisses and remind me she was hungry. We play a game most mornings in which I pretend I am still sleeping, but she knows I'm awake and just faking it, so she ever so gently touches her paw to my cheek to “wake” me up – generally several times before I yield, rubbing her a bit on the tummy and neck to an increasing crescendo of purrs before I make my move to get up, get dressed, and follow her to her food bowl. It is a routine my little loving purr-ball and I play most mornings, and one I really kind of look forward to. It's a great way to start the day.
Snookie is 15 years old, yet thinks and acts like she is still a kitten. For a cat, she is an old girl, but then I'm getting older too. All of this is not going to last forever, so I cherish the joy she and I share each day.
There is a certain comfort in following routine at this stage of life. After feeding Snookie and swinging by the bathroom, I turn to my own routines for the morning. After squeezing a lemon for a cleansing glass of juice to break the fast, next is preparing coffee so that it is ready to perk when my wife Ann gets up later in the morning. Everything is the same, from one day to the next. I give each chore my complete attention and perform every act with deliberation and a certain joy in appreciation of the simplicity of it all. There is no hurry to get to the next thing. Each moment is the best moment, and I want to live fully in each sacred instant.
My old running guru and friend George Sheehan used to stress to me that “to miss the joy is to miss all”. That's a message I have carried close to my heart since the 1970's, seeking always to find joy in each moment. Each day is beautiful. It doesn't matter whether the sky is blue and the glorious sun is shining. No matter the weather, I have this deep sense that everything is just perfect as it is. I wouldn't change a thing. With the great variety of weather, my senses are always busy, entranced sometimes with the magic of it all, not wanting to miss a thing before right now slips away.
Sometimes I just want to dive deep into that feeling where everything feels right, where there is no argument with life, where I can just go with the silence and not only feel the joy, but be the joy. I make promises from behind the altar of my sacred church. I proclaim that I will never leave its sanctuary but will remain faithful to this freedom I experience. Often I’m in awe of how lucky I am to be here right now. Right here, right now is where I choose to be.
I focus on my breath to help expand this exquisite Satori, the Japanese Buddhist term for awakening, comprehension, and understanding. Satori refers to the experience of seeing into one’s true nature. I breathe, I breathe, I breathe, as I cherish the joy of the moment.
A large wave of emptiness and fullness dissolve over me. I have this great desire to share this experience, to write about it, to express it, but the words I grasp for are like snowflakes that melt as soon as I hold them in my hand. All things will pass and the words we leave behind will turn to dust and float away in memories that keep God smiling.