Today, at 48 years old, I am dressing up. Am I going to a Halloween party? Do I have school aged children to promenade with in all my splendor door to door for trick or treating? No and no. I choose to dress up on the eve of the Day of the Dead to celebrate the Day of the Living. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do respect, even enjoy the Day of the Dead. It is an opportunity for families to celebrate the lives of those who have passed and even invite them to sit down for another kind of spirit, a drink, and a calaveras poem recitation to remember and commemorate that person’s unique quirky contribution to the world. And, just as the Aztecs once asked their progeny not to cry on this day, so that the spirits of their loved ones didn’t slip on their way home, so I, too, choose not to cry (just for today!), but to laugh. And if tears come from too many giggles, well, perhaps the departed will just have to slide around a bit and giggle as they try to keep their balance. Today I choose to dance on the threshold. To let my shadow side give me a whirl on the masquerade floor and perhaps give me a tickle under my arms. To relish the gifts of life as we come face to face with the mysteries of death. Today, as a citizen of the living, I choose to live!
A friend of mine said to me, “breath is everything”. I couldn’t help but be narrow-eyed and jaded. “Everything?” I asked. That’s a big word.
“It’s the beginning of everything. Everything starts from the breath,” she continued.
Still muddled, though less jaded, I started to let that thought work its marinade at the back of my mental refrigeration storage unit. It sat there for awhile.
And then, a few days later, events entered my life that created anxiety. An emergency here. A major worry there, my mind and soul whirring off of their mountings. Breathe. Just breathe, I remembered. It’s the simplest thing I can do. It’s the one thing I can do successfully right now if I take the time to do it thoughtfully, intentionally. In this time of spinning outward into the stratosphere, I can center on the very thing that gives me life: breathing. I can give myself this gift of life within the twirling chaos.
Breathing. It isn’t everything, but it is the beginning of everything. Sometimes paring life down to bare bones beginnings can open up worlds in us that may lead to other places. Better places.I’m banking on it; I’m breathing on it.
On these “ordinary” days of extraordinary color, magic, and mystery that the subtle winds of October bring to us, I find that like the sweet nectar of savoring that swirling and cascading leaf, or the tramp, stumble, and skip down the road-memories of childhood, the pseudo indulgence (an actually necessity) of play also draws us in. We hear it whisper, “oh, please, just one game, one dance, one indulgent giggle!” And we give in (thank goodness!)
I found myself in a small intentional community gathering the other day, asking me to “come and play” for an hour or two. The format was simple: take 8 adults, an outdoor space, and a few games (like toss the ball, say a name, next person goes, remember the order, then do it all backwards!) and suddenly, enter the doorway into fun. It doesn’t take much, just a little time and a little willingness. The results are: easier breathing, lots of laughter, and more playmates!
Today I’m hanging out with my dear friend’s two boys who love to join with me in adding a little silliness to a ping pong game (can you do a dance move in between each paddle swing? let’s see how many rhymes we can come up with for our names. . . card trick anyone?) And the free and easy, breezy attitude of play releases me into movement, unpolished cleverness, and belly laughs. The drive with my daughter and a friend or two the other day belting out at the top of our lungs a well-trodden song from the nineties did the same thing.
What would you like to play today?