I read a lot of memoirs, not just to study my craft, but because I’m fascinated by the human experience. I love being invited into people’s lives, especially to witness how they respond to and grow from adversity.
When I read or hear another person’s story, I almost always learn something about myself. That’s what I believe most memoirists hope to accomplish—that their words will connect with a reader and result in an aha! moment.
I recently read Dying To Be Me, by Anita Moorjani, a story about a near death experience (NDE), which gave me several aha moments.
Merriam-webster.com describes NDE as
“an occurrence in which a person comes very close to dying and has memories of a spiritual experience (such as meeting dead friends and family members or seeing a white light) during the time when death was near.”
If the concept of NDE is too woo-woo for you, bear with me; I’m not going to go all new agey on you. I just want to share an aha! moment
After returning to her conscious life, the author realizes that everything she needs to be happy is within her. It got me thinking about the simple life I lead. I can’t say that I don’t need anything beyond myself to be happy, but I know that the sources of my happiness are easy to come by and close at hand.
Good music. A quiet afternoon with the house to myself. My garden. Losing myself to my writing. Coffee set to automatic brew in the morning. Chilled chardonnay outdoors on a warm evening. A good book. Snuggling deep into the covers at night. Knowing that I have loved ones in my life (although I don’t need them with me at that moment in order to be happy.)
I haven’t always considered a simple life a good life. It’s not that I wanted a fancy or expensive life, but I thought I wanted a busy life with more going on—more people, more activity, more excitement. Even though, for an introvert like me, more people and activity and excitement is decidedly not more fun.
I’ve often felt ashamed of my simple life. When acquaintances talk about their upcoming vacations or their weekend plans, I sometimes dread being asked what I have planned because usually the answer is “nothing.”
But now I realize that my ability to be content and happy with the simplest of things is a gift, not a curse.
Instead of answering “nothing” to inquiries about my plans, I need to regale my listeners with my excited anticipation of savoring my coffee, puttering in my garden, sitting on the porch at night.
Aah. It sounds perfect.
What a gift that I have awakened to this appreciation. And I didn’t have to go anywhere to receive it—not to the ends of the earth or the edge of existence. The appreciation is within me every moment.