Some time ago, I was given one of those “fill-in” books that my children and grandchildren will find and talk about after I’ve left this crazy world. It’s been both fun and challenging to leave my impression about various aspects of my life. What did I do for fun as a kid? Who was my favorite teacher? What was the craziest thing I ever did? . . . A lot of interesting stuff to think about.
One fun question was, “What are one or two things you did that you didn’t tell your parents about?” (There were plenty of vacant lines for me to spill out my secrets.) I thought about that for a while, then wrote in large bold letters across the entire page, “…AND I’M NOT GOING TO TELL YOU EITHER!”
But, here’s the one that stumped me. “What is your perfect day?” Now, I can think of several activities that could be defined as “perfect”, but – a whole day’s worth? So, I looked up the word in THE NEW COLLEGE EDITION of THE AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY.
Perfect (pῠr’fikt) adj.:1.Lacking nothing essential to the whole; complete of its nature or kind. 2. In a state of undiminished or highest excellence, without defect; flawless
H-m-m-m. Now, here’s the thing. I could easily define my time paddling in a kayak down the Racquette River in the Adirondack Mountains as “perfect”. The peace and solitude of being one with nature is so very satisfying. But, a whole day? I think about my near dunkings when no beach was available for easy egress from my watercraft. Then there’s the resulting stiffness in my back while trying to carry on the next day’s activities. Being alone is a welcome change from life’s busy chaos, but being alone when there’s a bear just around the bend? Well…
My wife and I recently drove from our home in Western New York to Washington DC. The path through New York’s Finger Lakes Region and the Pennsylvania mountains COULD make for a perfect drive on a fall day. But, six hours of drippy rain and overcast mountains pretty much put a damper on that possibility.
Maybe Thanksgiving, the holiday when everyone in the family tries to gather at Mom and Dad’s place, could be “perfect”. The banter of grown siblings and their spouses, the antics of young cousins normally separated by too many miles between their homes, the lure of my wife’s homemade everything on the table. These are the makings of wonderful memories. And yet. . .
I’m not really sure if a whole day of anything is particularly suited to my disposition. In this imperfect world, it seems to me, there are no “perfect” days. Maybe “perfect” moments, but not days.
I happen to believe in a hereafter. God wouldn’t have made this world and put people on I (Yeah, I know. We and the world evolved, but, Somebody had to start it.) without a post-mortem plan. So, the “hereafter” is what I would consider the ultimate PERFECT day.
So, maybe there are perfect moments in an otherwise imperfect day. If I were to snatch a little piece of heaven out of one of my days, it just might look like this:
• Standing on an overlook high in the mountains on a warm sunny morning;
• “Sight Supervising” the excavation of a new construction site with my grandson;
• Paddling around the bend of a lazy wilderness river to come upon a doe and her fawn grazing at the water’s edge;
• Taking in the breathtaking colors of the leaves on an autumn drive through Western New York with my wife;
• Relaxing in the shade of a large leafy tree on a hot summer day, a light breeze whispering through its branches;
• Settled in next to my wife on a cold winter’s eve with the fireplace flames dancing while we watch a good movie.
I guess it doesn’t take much to make me happy . . . or maybe it does.