Friday, April 08, 2016

The Blue Star-shaped Glass

On my geocaching adventures, I happened upon a paperweight of blue glass in the shape of a five-pointed star. It was inside one of the caches I was seeking. The rule was that if I took it, I had to leave something of equal or greater value. I left 2 dollars. Time would reveal that it was not an equal trade.

I don’t know what it is about this simple piece of beautiful glass art, but it has been on my desk for about 4 years now and I am remiss to part with it. I often pick it up and hold it to the light and look through it. It reminds me of Long Beach, California when I was 8 years old for some strange reason.

I used to walk down Long Beach Boulevard into Compton and there was a business with fishing nets and blue glass balls hanging on it. I used to stop and stare at how beautiful they were and the rich color mesmerized me. I imagined pirate ships and exotic islands and untold secrets.

What hold does this crystal have over me that I am so attached to it? I don’t have an answer to that and no doubt the person who released it into the public didn’t think anyone would feel passionately about such a bauble. The truth is they probably haven’t thought twice about it since they placed it.

If asked I wouldn’t even pick blue as my favorite color; that color would be green. Neon green is my choice, like the Christmas tree lights or maybe pistachio sherbet. Is it possible that a green star would have more of an effect on me? Simple pleasures, I know and that brings me round to the purpose of this column.

Living in the moment. 

Late last month a group of us hiked 12 or so miles on the Lone Star Trail up by Huntsville. 12 miles doesn’t sound like much, but strap on a 20 pound backpack and do the numerous water-crossings and root-infested trail and it is a long danged stretch requiring half a day of fairly steady walking. We stopped for a rest and sandwich at the halfway point and that is when I felt compelled to expound on living in the moment.

Some people call it taking time to smell the roses, but it is more than that. It is recognizing that you are at a special place in your life and savoring it. It is having an epiphany that you are having the time of your life. You could be any place at that moment and not recognize how wonderful the experience is. Most of us relive it later and that is when we get connected.

I was on my Spin bike at the gym the other day with a group of sweating people and I glanced at the clock. 20 more minutes! 20 minutes of beating myself down. 20 more minutes of self-abuse… or is it only 20 more minutes to experience something most people wouldn’t recognize as wonderful? At that point my whole mind-set shifted and I felt a surge of emotion. I was in the moment and yes, I can do this in spades – or Spandex! Those last 20 passed in a blink of an eye.

When we go on vacation we take our cameras so we can relive the experience later and we zip past the very experience we came for. The photos don’t do the visit justice and we miss out almost entirely. The sad thing is this is exactly what we continue throughout our lives. I’ve talked to many people who have been on cruises, but not once has anyone really relayed the experience in specific detail.

None of them remembers or reminisces about seeing their own blue star-shaped glass. One of my brothers had a mouse crawl on his lap while he was bear hunting in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He calmly watched it make a burrow in the heated pillow he was sitting on and will recall that moment over and over again for the rest of his life. Most people would not have the identical memory for sure, but his was amazing.

Children live in the moment almost 100% of the time. As adults we learn to ignore most of our life and focus on emergencies, distractions, delicious food, and tasks. My future is to find more blue star-shaped glass and I’ll have to slow down and make it a point to find it. How about we start today?

How about we slow down to see those little things we are missing. Last night I stepped outside and right above me in the sky was the planet Jupiter glowing like the moon. My mind went immediately to our ancient astronomers and once again I marveled at how they mapped the planets. Early this morning I witnessed Mars and Saturn in the south-eastern sky. Wow! So simple and free and so unnoticed by most.

Like my blue star-shaped piece of glass, most people forget to hold it up to the light.


Anonymous said...

DDC: Bert, absolutely wonderful column in The Baytown Sun this morning. I know that I'm guilty of just skimming through vacations or experiences. We traveled to Israel in 1984 and 1985, and I try to think of all that I saw and experienced, and find it difficult. This was a very good reminder for all of us to stop and smell the blue glass star. Just don't cut your nose.

Patrick Newman said...

I've been lucky enough to learn that lesson early in my travels. While I take tons of photos, and my wife would say that "tons" is an understatement, they seldom do my memory justice. I think the photos are more to share with others than remind me of where I've been. I credit scuba diving for really reinforcing the concept of slowing down and living the moment.

When I'm on the treadmill, struggling to finish those last few minutes, I'll focus on the music from my mp3 player.....that's my moment in the gym.

Anonymous said...

That was such an encouraging article Bert. Let's all slow down and enjoy the moment....Debi

Anonymous said...

Ruthie Ames: The phrase "treasure the moment" is so common to so many and can come across as so cliché, but when we stop and think about it ... oh yeah. Thanks again Bert.

It can only happen while shopping!

As the big man is my witness, every word of this is unquestionable and void of hyperbolic incredibility. With that taken into consid...