As I count down to the end of this quarter-life crisis, I look back and realize how (it's taking me some time to think of a word to describe how) the past year was. I guess the word I'm really looking for is inconsistent, but maybe spontaneous can do a better job at making sense of this post.
So because I felt a bit spontaneous after the "surprise," here's my note to self.
The next time, if there is a next time, your friends surprise you by bringing balloons and party hats and a cake and some poppers while they're singing "Happy Birthday" in a room full of other people, forget yourself. Turn around and look at them. Really look at them. You may not get a second chance. Look at how they walk toward you, smiling, singing, like fairies carrying gifts of happiness with their bouncing steps. (I really wish you had looked so you'd have a better description of what happened.) Look at their faces and remember that moment. Remember how you feel. Take notice of how you suddenly realize that these are your friends. These are the people who make this world bearable. They are your family. Look around. Look at the people in the room. Listen to their voices as they join in the singing. Appreciate them. Notice their smiles. Notice their existence. Notice that they are your friends too. Take a deep breath. Don't be afraid to cry. Let it sink in. You are not alone.
There will be no pictures in this note. You will not see what happened when it happened, but you will not need to. The pictures are static, the moments frozen on the page. They linger, and they do not fade. But they lose their value. Somehow, in the fleetingness of memories, you will find their importance, their significance. Somehow you will realize that these memories, which may someday fade, become special because of the idea of losing them, of someday finding out they cease to exist. These memories.
You don't need the pictures. You have them all in your memories. You have them all in your heart. You know how special the people are to you. You know how they risked the surprise. They don't know it but when they started walking toward you, your world shifted. You saw clearer. You saw them. You really saw them. Your friends.
The next time people surprise you, look at them. Really look at them.
You will realize someday that it will be like looking at the groom as his bride walks down the aisle. It will be like looking at the parents as their child receives the certificate of graduation. It will be like looking at the coaches of winning teams as they realize the work is done. It will be like looking at the artist whose songs are being sung louder by the crowd. It will be like looking at the universe, created to bring glory to its Creator, created to stun you in awestruck wonder, created to make you realize it was worth it. It was worth existing. It is worth being alive.
The next time people surprise you, let them. You don't have to decide how to react. You don't need to. Just let them. Stay in the moment. Let it seep through your skin and make you realize what you've known all your life: that God has been keeping you alive. For this.