A few years back, I told the man at the dump about an argument I’d had with my now ex. The old man always assessed what I had for garbage and recycling and then suggested what I should pay. Are you okay with that price? he’d always ask me. We had a sugaring and carpentry business then, and I often had strange assortments of things like moldy sap lines or boxes of broken syrup jars or a busted stroller.
The old man — who always spoke to my rowdy toddler daughter — told me to take her swimming for the day. That’s what you need to be doing today.
I think of him every time I go to the dump.
Before my second daughter was born, he suffered a terrible burn accident and died a prolonged and horrific death. I know this because I read his obituary in the newspaper one fall when I was crumpling up newsprint to build a fire in my wood stove. Those days when I pulled into the dump with my lively daughter and the million things I was doing then — syrup and mothering and trying to figure out my life — the day of his death seemed far away.
There’s a lesson in this I repeat to myself, that I must swallow down into the marrow of my bones. Seize joy — the unremarkable days of swimming that make up a life.
… We are not wise, and not very often kind. And much can never be redeemed. Still life has some possibility left… very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins…. whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.
— Mary Oliver