Looking over the kitchen counter, I can see my husband. He is in the living room, sitting in his favorite chair, reading the newspaper, and leisurely enjoying his second cup of coffee. It is early morning, and he’s still in his pjs, bath robe and slippers. It is one of those days when he doesn’t have to rush off to work. The dogs are curled up at his feet, partially out of love. The other part is the hope that some left-over crumbs from breakfast will fall from his lap.
Although this scenario is one that has become entirely familiar to me, on this particular morning I am suddenly overwhelmed by a warm glow which I’m fairly certain is not a lingering hot flash.
I am moved to take my own second cup of coffee, walk into the living room, and sit in the adjacent chair. I am eager to share the beautiful thoughts that have taken roost in my otherwise foggy morning brain. Eventually he notices that the space next to his is occupied.
“What’s up?” he queries.
“Nothing much,” I reply. “I was just appreciating how very lucky we are to be in this moment.”
“What do you mean?”
“You, me, together in this wonderful environment, being able to share this sense of peace and well-being. We should not take such things for granted.”
For a moment I am speechless. He is actually agreeing with me. Bolstered by his words, I continue.
“Perhaps we should take a few minutes each morning and give expression to our good fortune.”
“You mean, actually discuss that I can still read the paper?”
“No, it’s bigger than that. It’s like we’ve been given a gift or something.”
“Just kidding. I know what you mean, and I agree. Let’s do it.”
So on this first morning of the rest of our lives, we take the time to put our warmest feelings into words. On the third morning of the rest of our lives, we are still at it. I am beginning to discern a possible trend.
“This is so nice,” I say, “we should call it something.”
“You mean, like give it a name?”
“Yes, like our Reflection Time, or something like that.”
“Reflection time? I don’t like that. Too new-agey.”
“OK, then you come up with something.”
“How about Gratitude Time?
“Don’t like that. Too Twelve Step. How about Affirmation Time?”
“Definitely not! Straight out of pop psychology!”
“I’m OK, You’re OK?”
“We need something that captures the mood. I have the perfect word, serenity. Let’s call it our “Serenity Time.”
“I could never call it that!”
“Because all the time we’re supposed to be loving, I’ll be thinking of incontinence.”
“These moments are a blessing, like the Sabbath. Let’s call it our daily dose of Shabbos.”
“Way too Jewish.”
“OK, then, a time of Thanksgiving?”
“Much too Christian.”
“How come you never like any of my ideas?”
“None of them feel right to me.”
“You think yours are better?”
“Well, yes, I do.”
“Why do you always have to be right?”
“I’m not always right. Except when I am.”
“Just once, can’t you agree with anything I say?”
“That’s an overstatement. Didn’t I agree with you last night?”
“Oh, yeah? About what?”
“That you overcooked the hamburgers.”
“Very funny. Next time you cook the hamburgers.”
“OK I will.”
And with those profound exclamations, he returns to his newspaper and I to the kitchen, where I proceed to make a lot of unnecessary noise by clanging the breakfast dishes. Only the dogs are unperturbed.
I realize that they are, in some ways, more fortunate than we. Unlike humans, they do not have the power of speech, and thus are way less likely to ruin a moment of Zen.