Our Town, the character of Emily dies while still a young woman and finds herself on a new plane of existence with those who have died before her. She learns that it is possible to go back to the world and relive a day from her life. Her companions advise against it, but she is curious. They tell her it is best to choose an ordinary day, but she wants something a little special, so she picks her twelfth birthday.
Emily sees her surroundings in a way she didn't when she was alive. The world is filled with wonder, people are beautiful, and life itself is constantly amazing. Yet the living seem oblivious to the value of life. They are caught up in the tiny details of their daily routines, and overwhelmed by struggles and worries that exhaust them. They don't stop to really look at each other. They waste time on things that will not matter in the long run, and miss the opportunity to experience the true essence of each moment. Emily is heartbroken to discover how people simply fail to see and appreciate everything around them.
We know that life is brief, yet so often we behave as if we had unlimited time to figure out how to live it. How often do we consciously feel the intensity of the life force that empowers our bodies? How often do we stop and look into the eyes of the people near us and allow ourselves to truly see and be seen? How often do we let go of fear and connect with each other on the deepest level?
If you could go back to any ordinary day in your marriage, what day would you choose? How would you treat it differently?
I would pick one of those lazy Sundays during our first year together. We slept late and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast: scrambled eggs, lox and bagels, orange juice. We went back to bed to make love and snooze, read the Sunday paper, snooze and love some more. Reliving that day, I would slow down just a little so I could use all my senses to experience and remember everything; the scent of shampoo in his hair, the texture of the sheets, sunlight filling the room, the taste of our kisses, the sounds of the outside world filtering in through the window. I would look into his eyes and see him looking back at me. I would know just how miraculous each moment was, being right where I wanted to be, where I needed to be, safe and happy with the one I loved.
Emily could review her life, but she couldn't change it. The advantage of being alive is that we can choose, right now, to experience life in a different way. We can choose to become aware of the value of these incredible gifts, life and love. With just a little bit of courage, we can rouse ourselves from the half-sleep of business-as-usual. Awake and aware, we can transform our lives into something new.
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