A couple of weeks ago while driving north on our road, I saw something that sparked my imagination. That vibe has stayed with me all this time.
A twenty-something guy, short cut hair, a well groomed, conservative beard, wearing a preppy pastel shirt with worn out probably skinny jeans and definitely shiny loafers, no socks, was riding an enormous Harley Davidson motorcycle with a small, terrier-like dog cuddled snugly against his chest. The dog seemed to be secured in a baby sling or harness. The pair smiled gluttonously, without regard for bugs in their teeth. The sun was bright and warm that day, but the November ticker tape parade of red and yellow leaves also swirled. And, though dry, the sky also growled with concrete gray walls. Nothing matched exactly.
In that brief moment that this stranger and his deliriously happy passenger threaded through the four-way stop sign, I was struck by all the contradictions. All the contrasts. None of him was predictable or sensible, not in the conventional ways of style and category, but he was bursting with that in-the-moment kind of life pleasure. The natural scene itself was also such a wild mix of color and texture, temperature and emotion, I knew the seasons were trading for good. But it was all perfectly wonderful.
Then for the rest of the day my eyes were magnetized for more of this particular kind of beauty. Contrast, contradiction, unexpected pairings that produce harmony.
At the doctor’s office I saw a woman wearing pale, bejeweled sandals with dark green corduroy pants and a thick, braidy sweater. She was playing on her phone that was encased with a seashell motif. At the grocery store I saw an older gentleman carrying only a pair of apples and something small in a box. He was thin but with a pot belly, speed walking alertly, smiling, and yielded graciously to me as I pushed my cart of Thanksgiving feast supplies. His once red t-shirt had a faded message on it. His eye glasses looked inexpensive but were well polished. With all of this, we wore suit pants.
Back home, I keyed in on more brightly colored tree leaves and more of that gray but still illuminated sky. My garden, that day, still burst with pink flowers and yellow roses but also seemed frayed at the edges, the height of summer all exhausted and mellowing.
I searched my friends group in my mind and discovered people who fit no mold at all, lovely men and women who live life on their own terms, even if not always in such visible ways as the preppy on the Harley taking his tiny pup for a joy ride. I see them balancing intense, left brained careers with equally intense creative pursuits. They paint and make music and write spreadsheets and lead board meetings. My community is overflowing with contradictions, and I love it. All that happy, chaotic harmony. Every person, dancing to the beat of his or her own drum, is contributing to music that thrums and pulses and fills the air in beautiful, unorchestrated ways.
I love to visit homes containing seven or eight or twenty styles of art. I love to sit at a table encircled by people of varying faiths and political leanings, speaking in as many accents or (better yet!) languages. I love fashion choices that are startling at first then deeply intriguing and flat out adorable. No fear. I love to grow my own garden with soft pinks, careless reds, and spicy oranges all near each other, ignoring traditional color wheels if the result is pleasing. This also applies to the scale of plants. If I like it, even if it is bizarre like Mexican petunia next to boxwood, I get to grow it. Because every day when I see that it makes me smile. I love tiny animals who are the boldest and beasty ones who are the gentlest.
I love holidays jam packed with traditions from myriad backgrounds, every meal and every gathering heavily seasoned with personal meaning for somebody. No robotic habits here, but emotional connections that defy logic.
I love menus planned for pleasure, not adherence. And I love to serve canned cranberry jelly, still in the shape of its can please and thank you, in my fanciest cut glass antique dish. I love Christmas trees decorated for joy more than display. I love pajamas that are both sexy and comfortable, whenever possible, and family schedules with lots and lots of white space for filling (or not filling) as whims arise. I love it all, and I love it all at once too.
The feeling and flavor that overwhelmed me that morning, seeing that complicated preppy-Harley guy and his free spirited, miniscule pup, reminded me of how beautifully complex the world is and how I really, really like it that way. If anyone is paying attention to your details, to the vibrations you are emitting to the Universe, I hope they are inspired by what they see. But more importantly, I hope you are participating in a collective kind of music that is real to you and feels good. Tune into what you want, what you like. Notice it whenever you can, and enjoy it, rejoice in it. Magnify it. It doesn’t have to match anyone else. In fact, the less you match the better. The resulting life gumbo is so good. We are invited to enjoy the freedom of choice and contradiction.
Then notice that this same invitation extends to the brackish water of your emotional, spiritual life. We are all, almost constantly, swimming in a terrifying mix of joy and grief and safety and suspense. All of it at once, together, rarely cordoned off. Noticing the cold water or the salty tears is necessary; but never despair and do not fear drowning. Notice, too, the warm water and the fresh water, and just swim and float. Trust that relief always comes.
How plain and unstimulating would a predictable scene be, and how flat would a life be without challenges and surprises.
May freedom and a touch of chaos reign.