One Afternoon

I have a guest blog for you today by none other than author C.W. Hawes. You can also find him on Twitter–@cw_hawes. He is by far one of the most amiable people I know, and his piece “One Afternoon” sits well in consideration of Wednesday’s post.

So take it away Mr. Hawes…

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If you wish to know life, begin anywhere. For life is all around you. It is not a mystery and it is not difficult to understand. Life is simple as we are simple. We only think life is complex because our brains make it so. Rein in the mind and life becomes simple, as we are simple, as it was meant to be lived.

A long time ago now, in the spring, when the sun was warm and the air was still free of the heat and humidity of a midwestern summer, a friend and I had no classes for the afternoon. From somewhere, I don’t remember where, we’d picked up a freshly baked loaf of bread; still warm and smelling of yeast. We bought a bottle of cheap French Colombard wine and a block of cheese. From some where a couple paper cups materialized and we took our feast down by the river and sat under the trees which were leafing out.

Sitting there by the river our conversation soon died away. We ate bread and cheese and drank wine, my friend and I, and enjoyed the moment. During that time watching the river flow by and the sun sparkling on the water, hearing the sound of the water against the shore, smelling the fresh earth released from snow and warming in the sun, there were no cares, no worries, no thoughts. Only joy in the experience of the beauty life had granted us that day and in the companionship life had also granted us.

When the afternoon was far gone, we went back to the dorm. He to his room and I to mine. That delicious moment had passed, as all things do. Once again there were books and studies and the drama of the fellow who lived across the hall and his girlfriend.

That afternoon is many years in the past. I no longer remember the friend’s name. Just as far too often I failed to remember the afternoon ever existed. My mind, over the years, took what was simple and beautiful, and made a complex horror of it.

However, now that I’ve retired, the memory of that afternoon is more and more with me. And I realize how many years I was a slave to imagined needs and wants generated by my mind. But that, too, is part of life. I think in some ways a necessary part. Without pain on occasion we forget how wonderful the lack of pain is.

That afternoon was an experience of the essential simplicity of life and of the essential simplicity of being alive. The joy in simply being. With youth and middle-age gone, I’m cleaning out the clutter, that which contributes nothing to life, and letting go. For the rest of my days, I want to live in the joy of that long lost afternoon.

© 25 July 2016 by CW Hawes
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