Sunday, March 16, 2008

Words to Live By

Written and Posted from India

Moments before I walked down the aisle on my wedding day, fear gripped my heart and Maura, my beautiful Maura, gripped my wrist. Smiling into my face, her red-blonde curls making her look angelic, as always, she whispered something to me, earnestly. And then before I could even think, before I knew what was happening, the doors opened, my nearest and dearest sat, turned in their seats, staring at me. Halfway down that aisle, arm-in-arm with my dad, I realized what Maura had said to me. "Live the day!" she said. Live the day. And in that moment, at that very moment, I knew exactly what she meant. I knew that this day was only going to come once, and that unless I lived every single moment of it, I would let it slip through my fingers virtually unnoticed. At that moment of clear and uninterupted understanding, I cried and I grinned and I thought wonderful things about all of the people in that room who were watching me watch Matt. Those first moments of walking down the aisle are blurry, unclear, but from that one moment on, the rest of the day is like looking into a movie of my life, and if it had a color, it would be clear, clear beautiful crystal blue.

I am not the type of person who remembers what people say to me. Which is to say that I remember stories, I remember backgrounds and cousins and ex-boyfriends and piles of details about people's lives. I can't forget the stories and the details, even when I wish I could. But I rarely remember those precious pearls of wisdom that people have handed out to me over the years. It's frustrating that I don't remember them, especially because I'm certain that with the pearls I could have collected from my mother and grandmother alone, I would have quite a gorgeous strand by now. Instead, I am generally left with fragments, shards of wisdom, and whatever it is that I feel in my bones just by being who I am, genetically. Most of the time, my genetic wisdom serves me well. But every so often, someone whispers words to me, and they plant themselves in my brain in a way that's utterly different than what's in my DNA. Maura's words became a mantra for me. It is something I say to every bride before she walks down the aisle, particularly if I am lucky enough to be standing with her in those precious moments before a marriage is revealed. It is something I say to myself when I am practicing meditation or yoga. And sometimes it is something I say to myself when I need to pull myself back, reign myself in, when I need to be reminded to actually EXPERIENCE what it is that I'm experiencing. These are strong and precious words, which makes sense, because Maura is a strong and precious person.

Just a day before we left on our trip, I talked to Heather for the first time in months and months and months. Matt and I had a million errands to run that day, all of which we were running with my dad, and in his excitement and urgency to help us, he was impatient with the time I was spending on the phone. "This conversation is important," I told him, and "I wouldn't be talking on the phone right now if I didn't need to be talking on the phone right now." But in the end, his restlessness was contageous, and I told Heather that I needed to go and get on with that last day. "Remember the colors," she said as we were hanging up, "SEE all the colors." I promised her I would, and rushed off to buy those ever-important last minute items without which we surely wouldn't have been allowed on the plane.

And here I am now, with just 18 days left in this trip, and I feel saturated with color, full to the brim with colors I didn't know existed. Especially in the bizarre places where some of the colors exist, places like doorways, back alleys, cars, and dump trucks. There are the usual colors to be seen on clothes and jewelry and fruit. But it's the shock of the color, the color that catches me by surprise, that is the color I rush to soak in, to take in, to really SEE, just like Heather urged me to do. I think that she would be proud of me, that her inner artist is beaming with pride at her student, working so diligently to SEE everything that there is to see.

I am writing this post today because Maura has an upcoming birthday and because sometimes, on your birthday, it's nice to know that others take your words to heart so well that the words live inside their heart, just like you do. Before Maura whispered those words to me, I would have said that I do, actually, think of myself as a live-er of life, that I really DO live the day. But now I know that I wasn't quite right, that it was Maura who opened my eyes to HOW to live a day, an day, even a most extraordinary day. So on her birthday, I wanted her to know that because of her words, I was able to live Heather's words, and because of both of them, I get to experience India in particular but this whole trip in general, as though I just, for the first time, opened my eyes to the world, and my, what a lovely hue it has.


mbbutler said...

Aw shucks, thanks Lizzi. I am so blessed to have you as my friend.

Amanda said...

Maura, those words were excellent advice! Lizzi shared them with me on my wedding day, and I remember so much about the day.