It Was Striking

by | Oct 13, 2022 | 4 comments

It was striking. The moment I stepped out of the grocery store, the soft autumn afternoon engulfed me. ‘Embraced’ might be a more appropriate word here, however. So let’s try again: the moment I stepped out of the grocery store, the soft autumn afternoon embraced me.

Warmed by this welcome, my chin automatically tilted upward. A subtle gesture, to be sure, but one that let my forehead, cheeks and eyelids absorb the affecting beauty of the moment like breath through every pore.

‘Take this in,’ I thought to myself as I started through the parking lot. ‘Move slow and take this in.’ Trying to be of this moment and nothing else, I felt sun on my hands, heard the nearby twitter of birdsong. A slight breeze cooled my scalp like the tenderest of fingertips.

Sometimes life is just like this, don’t you find? Sometimes it feels like perfection is right here, just waiting for us to settle and and accept. In a very real sense, we don’t have to do anything to ‘deserve’ such moments. They are more like grace in character: a sudden and spontaneous gift from the universe.

This was certainly my sense as I continued through all those parked cars, as I made my way onto the street that was waiting to guide me toward home. Something was on offer here and, as with any true gift, all that was being asked of me was to receive.

Now, a careful reading of this experience – a careful re-reading – might prove somewhat revealing at this point. For I was, it seems, making certain assumptions about the character of the gift being presented here. The autumn afternoon was the gift, I thought. That sense of embrace was the gift. My feeling of having settled in and accepted – this, too, was the gift of that beautiful moment.

All tempting conclusions, to be sure. But also somewhat misguided. With the benefit of hindsight, I now see something else as the grace of this experience – something I’ve not yet reported in this piece.

Fast forward a few seconds and I’m standing at a stoplight. Waiting for the signal to cross, I still feel immersed and embraced. I still feel present and accepting. I’m also, to be honest, feeling a little bit proud of myself. Proud for having paused a bit. Proud for having opened up enough to greet all of this. Proud for having taken advantage of my meditative training in this way.

And in that instance, it happened. The slightest of ‘pops’ perforated this sense absorption and self-regard. Nothing dramatic. Nothing aggressive or overwhelming. Just the subtlest of wake ups; enough to have me on that street corner in a slightly more immediate manner.

And as I stood there taking in the sunny afternoon, feeling immersed and embraced, feeling relatively present and receptive – and yes, feeling kind of good about having welcomed all of this – I realized something. I was still, now some two blocks after walking away from that grocery store, holding a grocery cart in both hands.

Returning to the beginning of this telling and amusing tale, it was striking this moment of grace. This reminder that even when I believe myself so present, I can be distracted in some chuckle-worthy ways. It was striking.

– Neil


  1. Chuckle worthy for sure! Being able to laugh at ourselves is indeed a gift.

    • I’m still laughing here, Helen. It would seem that gifts abound!

  2. I love your story and the way you told it. And the reflection on the pride, with an unexpected twist at the end. Thank you for sharing it!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed, Mandy. And ‘unexpected twist’: this is exactly how it felt at the time!


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