Rob Brezsny put forth a challenge this time last year.
I invite you to write down brief descriptions of the five most pleasurable moments you’ve ever experienced in your life. Let your imagination dwell lovingly on these memories for, say, 20 minutes. And keep them close to the surface of your awareness in the next three days.
If you ever catch yourself slipping into a negative train of thought, interrupt it immediately and compel yourself to fantasize about those Big Five Ecstatic Moments.
I didn’t do it when called upon. I was rather busy at the time experiencing an ecstatic moment.
One that made it into my top 5.
42 years on the planet and 3/5 have happened this last calendar year. I take this as a good omen.
I am currently in therapy, digging in the dirt to root out trauma. I cannot think of a better time to remember and reiterate happiness.
Without further ado. In no chronological order, here they be.
Venice Beach with my sister from another mister. I had just embarked on my journey of being single and exploring what it meant to be alone.
I was 100 days in and already over the moon.
We walked the boardwalk, I filled my eyes with all of it.
We went in the ocean. Diving under waves, coming up and laughing. Sometimes getting knocked down and under. I came up sputtering and saw a grey fin in front of me. 7 feet away. I stood as still as the ocean allowed.
It was a dolphin.
A dozen more swam right in front of us.
Bliss is being chest deep in the ocean with your best friend as a pod of wild dolphins swims by close enough to reach to and touch them.
I picked my son up from daycare one August evening right around dinner time. He was 5 . It was a total fluke day. I had nowhere to be but with him. The weather had been warm for days, all the pools and splash pads were staying open late. I had money in my pocket, which was unheard of, and I treated us to puposas from our favorite South American take-out place.
We were hot and sticky from waiting for our food in the cramped little cantina. A kiddie wading pool sounded like heaven, so we detoured through a park. Our favorite.
There was a random drum circle set up at the bottom of the hill. It sounded like a giant echoing heartbeat on our way down. My son started dancing in my arms and I joined him.
We must have stayed for an hour. Just dancing without stopping. Me and all of these women in big flowing skirts dancing with our babies. Everyone smiling and laughing.
I heard a Ted Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert years later talking about daemons and muses. She spoke of those ecstatic moments where we are not in control of our bodies, the sensation that occurs when we become a vessel for something bigger as it translates to writing. She mentioned dancers feeling that way and I had an A-HA moment. I knew exactly what she meant. Because for an hour, I left my body and experienced pure joy. I felt like God’s favorite marionette.
Once upon a difficult time in my life, a man I hold dear saw I was struggling and drove me 2 hours out of the city to a Scandinavian spa. He saw I needed sanctuary and took me to his. Out in the woods far, far away from everything. 6 pools of varying temperatures, 3 hot, 3 cold. A dry sauna and a steam room. A hammock hidden in the trees, a fire pit and a quiet room for resting in between hot and cold dips.
Laying on a cedar bench, in a room set to the perfect temperature, our bodies making a perfect T, touching but barely, I just laid there. His hand on my shoulder and mine covering his. And for 20 glorious minutes I realized and relaxed into the idea that in those moments, I needed nothing. I was not hot nor cold. I wasn’t hungry or thirsty. I wasn’t tired and I wasn’t really awake. I was just perfectly still and content. Happy in my body. I am sure I have had other moments like this, but I realized it in time to really savor it.
On the way home we had the most amazing conversation, we spoke of entangled particles, quantum physics, space and time the whole way.
We crawled in bed later, with full bellies and I fell asleep smiling. I carried that sense of peace and tranquility for a while, and I can still get back there from time to time if I need to. And he still shows up when I need him to.
The next one is bittersweet. It will have been a year ago today.
In an inspired moment of uncharacteristic bravery I reached out to a virtual stranger over the internet. It was as simple as asking him how he was doing. He replied not so good. I asked if there was anything I could do.
I offered my company and he took it.
12 hours later I had watched the sun come up, smoked the better part of a pack of cigarettes and my entire life had changed.
I finally knew what it felt like to open up completely to another human being. To be my absolute messy, dirty self. To trust and be trusted completely.
He loved me. All of me.
I felt like God’s favorite marionette again, but without strings.
I still love him for that. That opening me up and making it okay to do what I do, feel what I feel, want what I want.
I realized that night that symbiosis can exist between 2 people and how good it feels to find your counterpart in another living, breathing being.
Then the Giant.
This one isn’t easy either.
Funny how a girl who writes about sex and has it do frequently is asked to pick 5 moments out my life none of them are about the act of sex. Not exactly.
The moments I had with him blend sometimes and I let them. But if I had to pick one, it would have been the first night.
Lying in bed with him, after. Skin touching and I could feel/see these tendrils of purple lightning like static sparks in slow motion at every contact point, and there were many. On my side, pressed up against him. He rolled away from me and put on Postcard from 1952 and we just laid there for 7 minutes and 7 seconds. Halfway through he turned his head and kissed my forehead and I remember thinking “this is about the happiest I have ever been, in this moment, right here right now.” That this was love.
So there they are.
Honorable mentions go to…
1995 The time a mountain lion licked my face after I rubbed her belly.
1992 Seeing Pearl Jam live for the first time.
2013 Riding the Hulk at Universal Orlando, 9 times. And the whole trip where myself and my son just danced around theme parks for no reason.
2015-16 The Poet calling me his sexual soulmate, or talking to me at all really.
2014 Young Un standing in my foyer smiling at me like he won the lottery.
2015 Sitting in a tree with Gelfing watching fireworks, talking and smiling, and that minute where we stopped and stared at the sky because it was on fire.
2016 Sitting on a stripper’s lap, smoking, overlooking Bourbon Street, talking about the universe, feeling safe and warm.
1984 Laying on a beach when I was 8 with my extended family at 2am, awake because there were Northern Lights over Lake Superior.
1994 Skinny dipping with the same kids I laid on that beach with 10 years later just in Lake Huron this time.
1995 Falling asleep in Dorian’s bed after a long-assed day, that bed felt like it was made from clouds.
1992-4 Falling asleep everywhere with Golden Boy. He made the floor feel like it was made out of clouds.
2015 The Hulk hugging me right after he told me his sister was getting better. Or any time he hugged me really.
1986 Waking up at my Aunt’s cottage. Wrapping myself in my favorite quilt with the pink roses and sitting on the swing alone, watching the sunrise.
2007 Driving to the farm at 5am and not seeing on soul on the road for an hour only deer and coyotes coming out of golden mist.
1974-1989 My Nana’s porch.
2016 Giant’s kitchen, dancing and glancing at each other while John Mayer sang. Giant’s kitchen period.
2009 Slow dancing with Sean in an Italian restaurant at 3am.
2016 The first time I heard Jason’s voice.
1995 The first time my son laughed that perfect baby laugh.
The first time I heard Ocean by John Butler Trio and Ode to Joy. The 1000th time I heard In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel.
2009 Listening to Let Down by Radiohead right after my jeep had been tricked out to sound like the Budokan.
1998 The first time I slept with Jesus.
2014 Smoked pecan pie in Sunday’s truck eating it with our hands like little kids.
1976 Running through the field by my first house with my dog watching the grasshoppers fly up around me.
1976-1980 Red winged blackbirds coming just before the spring.
1978 My dad picking me up and running with me while we got chased by a thunderstorm.
All the thunderstorms.
1998 My son waking me up 30 seconds before lightning hit the church by our house, watching it together and falling back asleep in awe of my magical child.
These are the things I want to carry with me forever.
The rest can fall way and make room for the better things that are coming.