I've Lived In Chico, CA 9 Years Now. Incredible.
What Are You, Leap Year Day? Speak.
It’s a new day, yeah, right, said the groundhog rising up to find everything in his world exactly the same. Truth be told lots of my days feel like Groundhog Day, except this Leap Year Day, commonly thought of as a kind of Bonus Day. Which means what?
Here we have an extra day to live, as if a gift from the heavens! That’s one way to look at it, right?
If you look at it another, more scientific way it’s no more than a strategy to correct Somebody’s error. I am not sure whose, but it seems time got screwed up as soon as we started measuring it.
Frustrated, I shall allow Leap Day to reign in my thoughts for ten minutes; I shall reflect and bask in the moments to see what the big mysterious time-event reveals on this not-so special but unique day.
This day began with a surprise in Chico. Storms and cold (well, at least in the 40’s) were predicted with snow in the mountains, so I girded my midsection and everything else only to walk out to a pretty decent, sunny morning. So much for predictions. Maybe later things will start happening weather-wise, which is always a possibility even on the most mundane days of our existence. In any case, I have bonus hours of sun today. And so I begin my reflection with a thank you to Leap Year Day.
LYD responds, (what?!) reminding me that regardless of our routines, we are always subject to surprises and things happening that we can’t quite figure out. Time itself is a mystery and any given day is and has ever been what humankind has decided it would be.
Already, Leap Year Day has made me feel dizzy.
One of my favorite sages, humble Nisargadatta, now enters my thoughts with a favorite phrase I picked up from him while back: “The unexpected is bound to happen, the anticipated may never come.” I take this to mean that it’s a bad idea to get your hopes up, and it’s not worth it to worry too much because everything and anything can change in an instant.
Does anyone remember the late Leo Buscaglia, aka Dr. Love, Professor of Special Education at the University of Southern California? He arrives and sits right next to Nisargadatta, who is cross legged on the…where I don’t know, what is the ground of your imagination? Anyway, here is Felice (his real first name in life, the name his mother called him) holding a book of his that I read decades ago. It’s turned to a page in which he tells the story of his being impressed, forever, by a scene in little-known play called After the Fall. He says that anything in the world can change in the space of a day. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, and as a gift of my bonus day where I have allowed myself a little time to play with the meaning of it all for FIFTEEN minutes- in the morning!- I can actually show you the page he is reminding me about, from his book Living, Loving and Learning:
I don't know how many of you are acquainted with Arthur Miller's wonderful play called "After the Fall." It's probably one of the most underrated works of American literature. He wrote it right after the suicide of Marilyn Monroe, who had been his wife, and he tried to ask the question I tried to ask myself earlier, and that maybe many of you have asked yourselves: What could I have done to have saved someone in my life? This was a play that said, "I have to learn to forgive. Others and myself." In it he has a beautiful thing that I'd like to share with you. One of the healthier characters says this:
"I think it is a mistake to ever look for hope outside of yourself.
One day the house smells like fresh bread, and the next, smoke
and blood. One day you faint because the gardener cuts his
finger. Within a week you're climbing over corpses of children
bombed in subways. What hope can there be if that is so?
"I tried to die near the end of the war. The same dream returned
to me each night until I dared not go to sleep, and I grew ill. I
dreamed I had a child. And even in the dream I felt that the child
was my life, and it was an idiot, and I ran away from it. But it always
kept climbing into my lap, and clutching at my clothes, until I thought,
if I could kiss it, whatever was in it that was my own, perhaps I
could sleep again. And I bent to its broken face, and it was horrible.
But I kissed it. I think, Quentin, one must finally take one's life into
one's own arms, and kiss it."
I must get to work, but thank you, Leap Year Day with your bonus time it was up to me to find and use! I don’t always understand the day, the times, others, my routines, ruts or why I am in them, etc. But I am grateful anyway, and am getting the hint that my limits any of the days I'm alive are my responsibility to deal with. Still trying not to worry...
And thanks also to my two imaginary visitors this morning, both students of Human Disconnectedness. Felice Leonardo Buscaglia, you kindly reached out particularly to the disenfranchised, the elderly, the disabled, and people like me; and you, Nisargadatta, til the day of your death you WERE one of the aforementioned group even after people discovered that for a poor old man, you had important things to say to the world.
Life really is full of surprises, is what I am thinking this day that I have invited to be more than a fluke of the calendar – at least in my little Chico world.