Monday, September 14, 2015

Clean Sheets

I found this journal entry from last year at a time that I am angsting over a number of life transitions, including where to go on vacation. I’ve been here about a year and a half and haven’t traveled outside of Israel and Palestine. I MUST! There’s a whole world to see! A few days ago I was contemplating Macedonia. That’s after my Croatia kick. Then I bailed on that and thought I’d settled on Greece, but I couldn’t pick an island. So now I’m back on Istanbul. And that's just location - dont' get me started on booking hostels, figuring exchange rates, and convincing myself to take off work. But in driving to pick up my dear friend from the airport yesterday, I was reminded of a core lesson that I have over and over again been re-teaching myself: not to take life or ourselves so damn seriously. This is something that I know intellectually, but am trying to train my insides to reflect the theory (kind of like meditation when your mind wanders to grocery lists and Greek islands and all of a sudden you get a rib in the side from your subconscious reminding you why  you’re doing this in the first place: oh shit! Breathe!!)  All knotted up inside and trying to smoothe everything out, I returned home to journal last night and came across this artsy attempt to capture a little treasure: the joy of freshly changed sheets. So, with that introduction/aside (can you have an aside before you formally start?), here is a post on appreciating the little things – near and far.

Sometimes people need a change of scenery – a whole adventure peppered with exotic spices; with savory meals during a sunset that sheds a whole new light on our worldview with no added effort but for a slight change in meridian. They seek fresh perspective at the bottom of glasses of tropical fruit juice and rum or in the sage wisdom from the old man who is said to live atop the mountain's peak – evasive as the rainbow’s gold and not nearly as wise as his seekers were in the first place.

I, too, have trekked the globe in search of an answer – seeking sounding boards against steely walls of city centers and the spongy backdrop of a jungle; against the ancient limestone and marble capsules of academia and religion, listening for an echo of ‘my truth’ all the while passing too quickly through the fun house to pay attention to the more subtle reverberations that followed my query. They may very well have offered the harmonious chord I’d been listening for had I paused long enough to notice.

What if, instead, that truth – that golden wisdom or the answers in our own quiet hum or the ecstasy in the first sips from a daiquiri glass – could be found in the place to which we always return; that place that grants unwavering comfort if we acquiesce to it. That sacred space to which I am referring is between fresh sheets.

There is nothing in the whole world like clean sheets. Peeling off the under-layer of that intimate cushion to remove the dust and sweat and tears you’ve carried with you and laid to rest each night – mildly absorbed to relinquish you of your burden but never fully discarded; rather, catalogued and stored away for you to sift and sort at a later date if you so choose, or to leave permanently behind in one wash cycle. Residing there – a collective memory upon which you rest your everything and leave it all behind only to gather more the next day. And when you put on clean sheets, you strip all of that away and pull that silky fabric taut across your mattress like a blank canvass.

When I was little, my mom used to raise the top sheet up and drop it across my sprawled frame. She said that this was what angels descending feels like. Each moment dissolved like a separate grain as the angels graced each nerve ending – skimming my toes, knee caps, chest, and nose, sinking deeper across my patient body until the sheet and I were resting as one, like a single piece of smooth chocolate melting across each taste bud of the tongue.

Then I’d slip inside to slumber deeply and start fresh with a new awakening, sliding one foot along the silky space and onto the cool floor, and then the other, to grace a new day.