I don’t remember when I first decided I wanted to experience special moments. I know when I was fifteen I had gotten the yen. I had read The Upanishads and they described an experience where you felt that the deepest part of your soul and God were one and the same. I wanted that experience, so my friend Jonathan Blaine and I would get up early, meet at his house on Marlboro Road and sit with our eyes closed and our legs crossed on the bed in the room where he had his model trains before we took the subway to Manhattan. I must have decided I wanted a special moment before that though because the special moments always seemed to remind me of something earlier — hiding in the closet during a parents party behind the coats — and before that reminding me of standing in the patch of grass behind the neighbor’s house in sunshine — and before that night time wobbling on the edge of sleep — and before that I don’t know, but back and back, deeper into past, each row of stairs leading to another trapdoor, each trapdoor leading to a deeper crawl-space.
If you try to experience something, in my experience, you can usually experience it. Or at least something that feels like it — and when it comes to experiences, aren’t “feeling it” and “being it” the same thing? So, over the years I have experienced:
a) Feeling myself disappear and becoming as one with a comforting, velvety darkness.
b) A sense of genuine rapport with another human being that goes beyond words.
c) A moment of indescribable freshness upon smelling the rain on a new morning, that felt so new it was like the first morning in the world.
d) A moment of terror so pure and holy I embraced it as I saw a mysterious light dance around my darkened room.
e) A sense of glorious vertigo falling into the eyes of a mysterious saint.
f) The joy of dancing on a holiday with strangers, whirling around, and singing and sweating until my chattering inner voice quieted and the boundaries separating me from The Dance fell away.
…and so on.
But lately I’ve become unhappy with myself and my beautiful experiences, because the yen seems to exact a price I’m not willing to pay. Namely, if some experiences are beautiful, special, deep, and profound, if some moments open a doorway to Eternity, then it seems to follow, that all the other experiences are ugly, ordinary, and shallow, and that their doorway leads nowhere.
I don’t want that dissatisfied feeling constantly weighing on the moments of my life, forcing me to ask “Is this deep? Is this beautiful? Is this special?”
So I’ve stopped looking for beautiful, special experiences, and while I’m at it, for beautiful, special people.