A tendency to lose perspective

September 15, 2008

On Saturday the girlfriend and I used the few free hours of my weekend to take in the sights, tastes and sounds of the Santa Clara Art & Wine Festival, which festivals we seem to frequent a lot lately. There's generally good, eclectic food and entertainment at these types of events, and so they usually make for a fun, simple day out.

Saturday was no different, except that I was repeatedly moved to tears.

It was mid-afternoon, and we were sitting in a large, open-air venue listening to a spot-on Tom Petty cover band. There were quite a few people enjoying the music, but not many were dancing. Before long though, an older, mentally retarded man shimmied up to the stage without a care in the world. He was having the time of his life, ‘dancing' anywhere he could as the music compelled his thoughtless motion.

I don't think he could have stopped moving even if he wanted to, and I couldn't take my eyes off of him (and I wasn't alone). I don't know what it was about him and his curious obliviousness, but it was quite affecting and enviable.

At some point, a lady whom I presumed was his mother, started dancing with him. She was positively glowing, obviously proud that this was her son; the music and the moment washed over her as she forgot about his next doctor appointment, or what his life might be like once she was out of it.

As far as I was concerned, the scene before me — and the story it told — couldn't get any more beautiful.

Then, as more people began to get up and dance, an obviously-in-love couple made their way to the edge of the group that had coalesced near the band.

She was able-bodied. He was in an electric wheelchair.

They both pretended that his legs worked, that he wasn't two feet shorter than her, and that no one was watching as they danced through American Girl.

There was something undeniably pure and true about both couples, and each person's confidence and pride in the other was manifest. It was a poetic scene for which I felt fortunate to have witnessed, and for whatever reason it had me missing my family, and appreciating more the girl leaning against my shoulder, holding my hand.

If I'm being honest, the whole episode reminded me a lot of my late mother, whose ability to fully and effortlessly live in the moment was something I always admired (even if it sometimes embarrassed me as a kid). I think I'll forever regret having never truly and completely shared with my mother one of her moments, especially since she always so easily and selflessly shared with me mine.

There's no doubt that my ‘big law' job, coupled with my personality, frequently causes me to throw myself into work, sometimes uncontrollably. The combination often makes it all too easy to forget about living. I'm getting better at compartmentalizing my brain, and "letting go" of certain things for brief periods of time, but it's not easy for me.

Last weekend I found myself truly enjoying the moment, and the person by my side, and I felt closer than I've felt in a long time to those no longer by my side.

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