MY TINY ARK
I always liked the story of Noah's Ark and the idea of starting anew by rescuing the things you like and leaving the rest behind. - Zach Braff
The more I experience in life, the greater understanding I have for what I need. And it is not very much but…..
I got into a really thought provoking and circular discussion with one of my essential friends a few weeks ago about how if we were to truly be at peace, none of us would require another word or action from anyone—that we could, in fact, provide all the encouragement, companionship and guidance from within.
I came at this perspective from every conceivable angle that I could possibly imagine but simply could not get past the fact that I am nowhere near this model of peace and not at all convinced I would actually find it in that kind of existence. Though it is ENTIRELY possible that I am incorrect in this assumption and I just need to get back on my yoga mat for a really really long time and/or take up Kristin on her offer of a NJ church service. I could also take that nice shouting man in Washington Square Park up on his invitation to Know Jesus better if I'd follow him just down the block. Because frankly, I suspect I'm a long way from transcendence. And I just had to look up how to even spell a word that haughty.
I thought about the hours my friends had spent with me this last year, how they showed up randomly, constantly, wholly in the most beautiful and unbelievable ways--in the most personal and vulnerable ways. They shared thoughts with me. They shared kindnesses. They shared hope. They shared love. They shared their unimaginable strength. They reserved judgment or comment. They just came and stayed. And they did not look away no matter how broken I presented that day.
I thought about how they helped me shape and reshape what my next season might look like when I was having a hard time remembering if I ate lunch. My reserves were depleted, my brain in a deep fog and peace was about the farthest state I could imagine any time soon. But oh my goodness was there laughter and happiness, too.
The truth is that if not NEEDING these people in my world is what constitutes peace then maybe what I’m seeking is something entirely different because those who rushed in (and stayed) when I was at my lowest taught me something far greater than I could ever have accomplished on my own. Or would want to.
And then I wondered, if I'm not quite prepared for peace, what would great joy look like right now? Who and what would I put on my ark if the world were ending? Cut me some slack, I had some new time on my hands so these are the kinds of things I thought about.
In my mind, my ark would be tiny by ark standards.
I would start with the furnishings and surroundings because that's how I love--making people comfortable, helping them feel like they belong and making sure they're well fed. I also want them to feel pretty and snuggly so I outlined a little something with that too. And they need nourishment if we're going to be traveling 40 days and 40 nights so that needed to be addressed also.
My ark would be furnished with approximately 24 vintage sofas (for symmetry) around 4 roaring fireplaces (build you own ark, mine has fireplaces). In the middle of each two-couch grouping would be a handmade reclaimed wood coffee table. There would be throw blankets and plush pillows everywhere made from gorgeous textural fabrics. The concave walls of the hull would somehow be lined with beautiful art—a little something for everyone. The books—real books—would threaten the weight balance of the vessel but they're non-negotiable. There would be wifi for those weirdos who get shaky without it (you know who you are). We’d have mandatory tea time with little sandwiches and Happy Hour every day. And we’d always eat our dessert first in case we ran into stormy seas.
We’d have magical lap puppies, who didn't poop all over, for everyone who wanted them. We’d have big husky dogs too for those who pretend not to love lap puppies. We’d even have a few double mane lionhead rabbits for a select few who had the patience to deal with their peculiarities of personality.
My ark would be loaded down with cheese and charcuterie and crusty French bread, medium rare steaks, baked potatoes with extra chives, wedge salads, bacon, watermelon, Milk Duds, eclairs, Nutella, avocado toast, truffle fries, queso with homemade tortillas, red wine (Malbec, Pinot Noir and a beautiful, bold Cabernet), cases of sparkling Rose, Titos Vodka, fresh-squeezed grapefruit and Topo Chico.
The hotel-cold bedrooms would be upstairs with optional opening skylights to sleep under the stars, if we desired. The beds would be giant so we could talk the nights away and fall asleep mid-sentence. They would be dressed only in white—white sheets, white linen duvets around white down comforters with Volupsa Baltic amber candles by each bedside. Somehow white roses and peonies would appear every four days in beautiful tiny arrangements. There would be large walk-in showers with bench seats, clawfoot bathtubs with never-ending hot water and a choice between plush white robes or one-of-a-kind silk kimonos to lounge in.
Believe it or not, I would have trunks full of valuable lessons -- the beautiful and soothing ones and the ones which feel a lot like paper cuts and pickle juice. Trunks full of memories. Trunks full of photographs capturing times and people I've loved and had to let go. Trunks of every handwritten letter ever received. Trunks of hard lessons remembered and cherished ones noted.
Okay, so my ark wouldn’t be THAT tiny.
Invited would be that child I cannot imagine life without and others who don't belong to me through blood but are nonetheless "mine" too. For sure my family would be included—even the temperamental persnickety ones who just need a little more love. And definitely the “family” I made—the ones I share no lineage with but nevertheless have claimed through shared history, blessings, hard hard times, death, joy, love, sickness and just showing up for each other. I'd invite the teachers I fell in love with in my youth and the ones I replayed that sentiment with during Baileys as well. I'd invite everyone I'd ever had coffee with so I could continue those conversations (except that one mean girl I just couldn't seem to coax joy out of). I'd extend an invitation to the souls I did not know very well before this year but have taught me so much. I would invite many I have worked with; many I only know via phone. And there would be a few characters I've only seen from afar but am so curious about. And of course, my favorite NYC barista, Jamie, who doesn't speak much but shows his love via his coffee art.
I enjoyed this exercise and it got better and better as the bottle of red emptied. But there was just one problem.
My personal ark sounded delightful to me but what I forgot to calculate in my scenario was what to do about the people they loved and what their ark desires might look like. Instead I just converted my apocalyptic fantasy exercise to a Party Ark (satire not sacrilege) and not one for world-ending purposes-- you know, just for a 7 day Caribbean cruising around scenario.
This felt much lighter and more realistic. As realistic as personal ark experiences go.
Shifting gears, I began to contemplate what I would leave behind and I realized not that much (except that unfortunate incident with ringworm and those cute kitties because that taught me little that I heeded). I just began to realize that every single experience and person who I've crossed paths with has brought me right here. I would even choose to pack up the distasteful less-than-my-best self sad ones for which I would not want to be remembered by because they taught me how to do so much better.
And though happiness looks a lot different than I once imagined, the trunks full of lessons and losses would still have a place on my "tiny" ark because they mattered deeply. But rest assured, they will be triple roped and locked and placed in steerage because my new ark has many new shores to explore and the trunks will simply be a place to rest my feet and balance a glass of sparkling Rose on as I sail for the next shore.
With my friends aboard.
JUST WONDERING WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE ON YOUR ARK....