Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).
What came first to mind was our vacation week in Brookings, Ore., in a charming house right where the Pacific and the Winchuck River meet. And in particular, the second full day of the week-long respite, when we woke to foggy skies and brisk, cool winds.
The great room of the one-bedroom house was all windows on the ocean end so we could see the driftwood-studded beach and the river mouth widen and narrow as the tides came in and out during the day. There were some 30 steps off the narrow back deck to the lower yard, which had tall trees, a lawn, and a short path out onto the beach, plus a fish-cleaning station and some of the ocean treasures others had brought from the sand -- buoys, shells, long driftwood poles, and an interesting assortment of oddly-shaped pieces of driftwood, for instance.
On this day we could barely see the beach. The ocean, of course, never ceases its wavery voice, first whooshing into the beach, then withdrawing with a sibilant purr. That was the constant background music for our whole week (and we slept with the sliding door and windows cracked so we could hear it all night long).
With the heat warming the room and lamps brightening corners, we ate a hot breakfast, then made a second pot of coffee. I snuggled into the chaise lounge part of the big, overstuffed sofa, afghan over my legs, and Tony settled in one of the big leather recliners with his laptop. And I cracked open a new book, The Help, and began reading.
Eventually I moved to another chair, propping my legs on the matching ottoman, because it had a better reading light. And read. All morning.
A quiet lunch, and I was back in the chair, this time with hot tea, and continued to read. All afternoon. I finished the book shortly before dusk: the fog never dissipated.
I don't remember the last time I just read a book all day long, blissfully lost in the word-created world. Occasionally I'd look at Tony, who was intent on reading news and blogs and video editing software, and sometimes he'd look back and me and we'd smile at each other, both of us utterly content to be exactly where we were, doing exactly what we were doing.
I have always, always been a reader. I'd read walking to or from school. I'd read in the bathroom. I figured out how to wash dishes with a book propped up in front of me. I'd read while drying my hair, while waiting in a line or for appointments; everywhere I went I had a book with me.
I've lost that in the busy-ness of the years and endless chores that need attention -- and there are always chores that need attention. Oh, I still read every day -- always the newspaper -- but usually a book only when I'm tucked into bed at night, before I turn out the light.
But I found it that day, again, that lovely soft grey day when there was nothing more important for me to do than sit there and just read. I found again the essence of who I am in that day and remembered how important it is for me to connect with my own story every day, to make time for that even with everything else beating on my door.