People speak of “living life to the fullest”, regaling of cruises taken, mountains climbed, or bacchanalian orgies. Me? Not only was I never a traveller, not only was Bayard Hill my Everest, but even in drinking days my war stories were few. Still, make no mistake about it, I live life to the fullest. I have found…acquired… the one thing that breathes life to my every moment.

Remember the scene in “City Slickers”? They’re in the mountains—the cowboy and the New Yorkers:

Curly (Jack Palance): “Do you know what the secret of life is??[holds up one finger] This…just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean s***.”?
Mitch (Billy Crystal): But, what is the “one thing?”
Curly: That’s what you have to find out.

I found out. The key to life—for me at least—the key to, better than finding happiness, finding JOY…is my ability to marvel in the ordinary—to revel in the simplest of measures. And I do.

Take this week, for example: the top of the month:

5/1: Nothing special, or was it? Breakfast with the boys in the back of Corky’s. A full house: Fred was resting pre-Derby, Walt was visiting from Vegas; sprinkle in Lester, Kraut, Himmel and Groovy and there wasn’t an issue we didn’t touch. Then came work, (like any other day)…and then, at 7…Well… not once in fifteen-plus years of sobriety have I ever gone to a meeting and not felt better at the end of the hour.

Ordinary day? Perhaps…but the best was yet to come. Wednesdays, you see, is “Date Night.” Every mid-week, since the last first of August, it’s been Carrie and me—somewhere. Hokey maybe? Not to us. Indeed, even the night of my surgery we took a quick spin ‘round the block.

5/2: We were readying to watch “The Notebook”—(Ed. Note: My second viewing. Hal and I cried through the credits some years ago, as Margie’s eyes rolled)—
The movie, in so many ways, was better the second time around. I saw more, felt more, and but laughed when, at film’s end, the lady on my right dried her eyes inquiring “How could you sit through that twice?”

5/3: Jumpstarted early—7:30 to be exact—with the comradarie of my home group at Suburban Temple. Fridays get lazy sometimes, and this was no different. Booked a trip up to Windsor; (we’re going this June); made a stop at T Baskins, and just slid to the weekend. With Hal “on the clock”, not even a trip to Marc’s would violate my weekend.

5/4: Enveloped by my laziness, awaiting the start of an NCIS marathon on cable, the phone rang. It was Michael. Twenty minutes flew by, quality time with The First born…. Oh, did I mention that Max, heir to the throne, had used the word “actually” in a sentence. Let’s give the family gene pool its props.

5/5: Hailey’s third birthday. H scooped me up and in tandem we then saw our uncle. It was difficult, and emotions roamed, yet we stood there together…just the way it should have been…as our mother (his sister), would have wanted.

My serenity would sustain itself all day in fact, as I devoured Paul Anka’s new book. A birthday party and a speaking engagement would fill the day and I would head into Monday well rested.

5/6: “Would you like a solo?”, came the question. I was already part of the grand finale, but the director of the musical revue was offering me “Sunrise, Sunset”. Should I have been content to sing the few lines of Hebrew in “Can You Hear The People Sing?” from Les Mis…probably. Did I grab my own song? Of course!

5/7: Scurried home after meeting. It would be the penultimate episode of NCIS. Even dinner could wait. Spoke to Stacy, twice, yet when my brother called to tell me he’d got a message to call Aunt Helen, more than a half hour was lost in chat and email, strategizing his return call and all variables thereon. (Echoes of my father’s voice rang strong: “If you ONLY spent this much time on your homework…” he would rail).

Nothing special, my week. Or was it? What’s my point?

Seven days in May: a sequence of boring anecdotes, yet evidence clear and convincing that simplicity gives my life sparkle.

In seven days—any seven days—I will laugh, cry, smile, stare, people-watch, wonder, stumble and even fall. Surrounded by friends, encompassed by loved ones though, I feel as Curly did riding through those mountains: like I’ve found “that one thing”.

For me, it’s life on life’s terms. Not the same old faces but the SAME old faces: loved ones. Not malaise in monotony but thrill in repetition, healthy repetition.

Yeah, I’ve found the one thing, the elixir to at least my life, and…guess what? It’s not so different, actually, from what my Grandma Bogart used to tell me way back when—and in Hebrew:  “He is rich,” she’d remind, “Who is satisfied.”

My cup runneth over these days, and I’m more than satisfied.

One Response to “SEVEN DAYS IN MAY”

  1. Up From Dysfunction says:

    Kudos to M.E., who caught that my original publication of this entry read “Blazing Saddles” and not “City Slickers”. I’d like to say it’s because back in high school he was cooler than me and just saw more movies —all true, by the way—. Fact is though, both those films were released long after the Class Of ’67, and my memory faltered.

    Memories fail you; good friends never do. Thanks, Brother Mark

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