A few Sundays ago, I met a dear friend for dinner. We were looking forward to catching up and rambling on as we usually do until we both felt a slight shift in the evening. For whatever reason, that Sunday night turned out to be one of those rare nights where you feel perfectly in sync with the universe and all of its wonderment and energy. It was one of those nights where the fortifying feeling of youth makes you feel this immeasurable amount of joy and bliss but at the same time, years of experience and growth lend you the eyes to understand why a moment like this is so special. It was one of those nights where the candlelight from the dinner table flickers across the familiar face of a friend sitting in front of you. It was one of those nights where you feel as if you’re celebrating absolutely nothing yet everything at the same time. And if nothing else, you’re surely celebrating friendship because as time has shown, a true friendship is a ship that doesn’t sail into harbor often. It is in these moments that you suppress the knowledge that though many more of these beautiful moments lie ahead, there are an equal amount of hard, sad and lonely moments as well. However, the notion of the sad and lonely moments is fleeting and you find yourself back in that present moment, enjoying a random Sunday night, in the warmly lit ambiance of your favorite restaurant, accompanied by a matured friendship. You find yourself enjoying the act of tearing and sharing a freshly baked pastry that the waitress randomly dropped off at your table because they happened to make “extra” that night. “As if the night couldn’t feel anymore blissful” you think to yourself. “If only we could swim in this moment a little while longer” your friend says to you.
I believe the company in which we share these moments is what makes them so profound. We want to swim in the feeling of reveling in fact that for once, things seem to be okay in every possible way, even if just for a moment. We then experience this repression of a faint voice of reality floating in the back of our mind, tempting us with our obligations, responsibilities, sadness and schedules. However, if there is one thing that I’ve begun to tag as my “lesson for this year” it is that the best place to be at any moment, is nowhere.
Going nowhere is going to a place where you are able to be present, truly present in any given moment. This is a phenomenon that has lost its appeal with all of the stimulation and temptation that the modern day brings. Being able to listen, truly listen with intention, when partaking in a conversation is now a challenge rather than an instinctive action.
There’s a quote I heard earlier this week that has stuck with me and I feel it is immensely relevant to the depiction of this feeling. Pico Iyer wrote in his book The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere: “In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.”
Ernest Hemingway also attests to this delightful feeling when he writes "Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive."
I suppose that after experiencing that Sunday night and hearing this quote, I realized that there was no true physical shift in the evening itself. There was nothing truly remarkable or out of the ordinary happening either. The "shift" in the night was internal. The "shift" was caused by a dear friend, along with myself, subconsciously choosing to "pay attention" and that made all the difference.