Sunday, May 1, 2016

This Earthly Life

I went to a party last night--a birthday party for the 87-year-old father of a dear friend. We gathered on a patio in the setting sun with frogs croaking in a creek down the hill. Next door in a grassy pasture, a deer grazed, its back to us, oblivious of the humans devouring cheese and conversation.

It was a small group--a dozen people, some of whom I've know since I moved to California in the 70s. Some I'm getting to know better and better each occasion I spend time with them. Others I'd met at a party or a dinner here or there over the years, and there was a couple I don't recall ever meeting before. It was one of those evenings where the light cast all of us in a glow and each morsel of cheese, each piece of fruit, each swallow of wine seemed more perfect than the last.

I frequently feel awkward in social gatherings. I sometimes drink too much or refuse to make eye contact or conversation with anyone who is not a trusted friend. I can't remember names and write off anyone I'm meeting for the first time while monopolizing the people I already know, following them around like a insecure rescue dog.

I don't know why exactly, but last night felt different. As if we were all there for a reason, intertwined whether we really knew each other or not, as if the ghosts of beloved departed ones were whispering in our ears, telling us how lucky we were to be at this earthly gathering in the company of one another's warm bodies, enjoying the creatures and fruits of this earthly life.