Sometimes stories just come to life in my head.
Vivid ones whose scenes cascade so quickly through my mind’s eye, that I’m suddenly caught up in this dance of characters and scenarios that I don’t want to end. Today was one of those days.
I was waiting at a stoplight when a man crossed in front of me at the crosswalk. He was walking briskly as if a fire were behind him and a catwalk ahead of him. He was holding on to a weathered grocery bag—a bag whose condensation-induced side rip gave away the final scene of its life story—as if its contents were gold. A quick glance inside told me why.
Sticking out of that near-death grocery bag was a dozen, freshly bled crimson roses. Ripe, striking and full of purpose, they stuck out like Snow White’s red lips against alabaster skin. The red struck a chord deep within with me, and ignited a desire.
Suddenly, my mind fell into the story book of this stranger’s life, and I hungrily went through every vivid scenario in my head, trying to figure out the mystery of the flowers. Were they I’m sorry I didn’t call when I said I would flowers? Were they I realize I love you and I can’t wait another moment to tell you flowers? Were they remembrance flowers for a heart that will forever grieve? Were they surprise flowers that every girl secretly wishes to find on her doorstep? Or, were these flowers meant to be rose petals strewn across the room for a seductive welcome into a night of intertwined limbs and dancing tongues?
The rose’s lips were sealed, and my mind was racing.
As my mind toyed with all these scenarios, I realized I desperately wanted to know if any of them were right. And yet, at the same time, I didn’t want to know at all. I didn’t want the excitement and rush of creating the story to end.
I often find myself wanting to know the ending, the answer, the solution—because only then is there closure and forward movement. Only when that period is placed at the end of a sentence, and when x is solved for, do I feel that I can breathe a sigh of relief. Another nicely tied bow around that question mark, and now I can move on to the next unanswered question, thank you.
But, in light of living a mindful and of benefit life, I think my solution-focused, forward-thinking mind may have been missing the power of half the equation. What if the process of seeking the answer to the unanswered question, is the answer itself? What if there is also so much to gain from going through the process of figuring things out, in addition to finding the solution?
If we merely look for the ending, we miss out on the beautiful moments, struggles and successes along the way.
We miss the beautiful frustration that is the process. It is those moments of mixed reality and fantasy, of rational and emotional, of racing adrenaline and control, which sustain us during our last breaths and allow us to say, “I can go now.” I want those intense moments of emotion and passion, those moments of connection, those romantic scenarios and beautiful landscapes to make up the movie that I play on my death bed, and allow me to peacefully breathe goodbye.
I want that because the process—those moments, those feelings—are what set my soul on fire. If I merely skipped to the final chapter, I would miss the crimson roses in my life. Now, it’s not that each answer and ending won’t be beautiful, but how much richer could they be if they include the moments that only vivid images, overwhelmed emotion and bursting colors can make up?
Author: Stacey Zlotnick
Image: Steven Worster/Flickr
Editor: Nicole Cameron