Labor Day Parade, Union Square, NYC 1882 – Wikipedia
Tomorrow is Labor Day and I just finished the traditional summer Barbecue, and as I have decided that life is just perfect the way it is, nature is also cooperating. It is all a matter of time and place, which is of course here and now, with the sun going down and the white clouds on the Horizon; slowly picking up orange, and pink hues. The Spruce stands tall by the shore of the lake, down poop alley where the geese feed and drop, and at its end; the weeping willows touch the fresh water, in reverence. Being here, the turkey burgers came out just right, and the corn is juicy and delicious, followed by strawberries and cantaloupe. The dinner done, I head to the community pool and am pleasantly surprised to find it all to myself, in the fading light, of another sunset; over the adjoining lake.
Decades ago when I was still a High School student at St Xavier’s Delhi, a seed had been born in my mind. Swimming in the school pool I had imagined a life as a grown up, and maybe America entered the picture as a wish, as Woodstock had opened a window, into a strange world. College reinforced the image, as the cultural hegemony of the US, continued to spread; like a wild fire, during a global warming summer. Nobel prizes earned, social change post Johnson’s civil rights, and the success of its worldwide brands, seemed to make the US a promised land. We listened to Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, Jimmy Hendrix, Doors, Carole King and countless others produced in abundance in America, and wondered at the tapestry, that they were weaving into our generation through their ballads and music.
Having arrived on the shores it was more like rediscovering John Steinbeck, Emerson, Poe and the darker sides of inner city living, that was the grim reality. Meals on wheels programs, welfare families dependent on the state, teenage mothers and fathers with little or no education, and charities fighting to better the needy. The struggle from a minimum paying job in the inner city, servicing these people, to my present circumstances working on Healthcare systems, was aided only by my immediate family. They have stood by me in my foolishness and my wisdom and known when to criticize (often) and when to praise (rarely) as I worked out my demons. My labors have borne fruit and we are empty nesters now in an ideal community, little boxes on a hill side all looking the same.
The four seasons pass by and I and my wife weather it well, as the comforts of home betray us from straying far, except when we visit the kids or the parents. We each have our moods and our emotions, and now with the passing decades, have become creatures of habit. The days pass in a routine of predefined activity, and each one plays his\her role, on this life’s stage. Occasionally there is tenderness or emotional bonding, as one plays with one’s grandchild, and sees the circle of life goes on. At other times it is just the two of us in different moods and emotional states, when nothing except time passes slowly. I wonder at the years gone by, and our meaningless life that drifts and flows, borne on the currents of the universe. At other times our patience bears fruit, as we engage in the companionship, that comes, with familiarity and commitment.
So as I swim backstroke in the pool admiring the clouds in the skies and the landscaped trees, I think of my journey from there to here. Is this all that life is meant to be and could I have opted for better choices? Later I lie in the Hot Tub feeling the relaxing pounding of the jets of hot water, and admiring the landscape, and wonder if I have found that illusive Nirvana? I know all this is great and maybe the school pool when I had nothing but pubescent dreams, has led me to this place. Being here is a revelation, and I am at peace finally, as life was always meant to culminate here, in my dreams, and reality is always just a mindfulness away.
But we are not done here and I have to keep working on my Karma as life happens, as we seek newer meanings. I plan to try and find more of those moments of comforting closeness, with my dear ones. They are my Dharma and to be able to see their smiles, and looks of understanding, that we have enough love to share, would be a blessing indeed. It is up to me to be here for them, and only then can they find me, and envelop me in their love. The realization strikes that it is I who have been missing, from my own life; on this Labor Day. “I love you” I whisper to life, especially my companion and all the others, as the Jacuzzi is turned off for last time, this summer. May we be given the wit and courage to repeat it at the opportune time, in our daily lives, to those around us? In the end, no labor however small, is ever lost and the small things matter, as they make us whole.
Brought back memories of you, Pankaj and I swimming in the Xaviers pool. But why such a somewhat depressing piece? I think you are missing India, particularly Delhi.
Great post! Wish I could have joined you in the pool on the last day before it closes for the season!