It was a Monday morning and Harry swung his legs over the side of the bed. He knew something was different, but he had no idea that today he would have a “perfect” moment. Donning his cotton robe, Harry made his way to the kitchen and started his day like he always did by preparing breakfast for his wife and two young sons. He got out the usual supplies – knife, cutting board, bowl and fruit – and laid them on the butcher-block center island. Suddenly the morning took a new twist. There was a break in his routine. The “same old, same old” wasn’t any longer.
In the past, Harry had dutifully made fruit salad for breakfast. He and his family always liked the end result but Harry had never enjoyed the process. He never liked the way the peel heaped up on the counter or how the juice ran off the board or the stickiness of his fingers or the slipperiness of the knife in his hand. It just wasn’t elegant or sophisticated. Making breakfast wasn’t fun or enlivening. It was a task to be accomplished so he could get on with his day.
That morning, things were different. Spontaneously, Harry was actually there for what he was doing. He wasn’t trying to get it over with. He appreciated the texture of the fuzz on the skin of the kiwi, the scent of the strawberries, the color of the oranges and curve of the banana as he set them on the counter. Then he had an inspiration. Why not use the bowl he usually reserved for the salad to hold the peels? Harry began to peel the kiwi in a single spiral, enjoying the moment when the skin landed lightly in the bowl. He slid the knife through the succulent green fruit, marveling at the starburst pattern of seeds in each slice, spreading them in a cascade of color along the upper edge of the board. Next the banana. The peel also landed in the bowl and the slices ran in an orderly line beneath the kiwi. Soon his board was a rainbow of color with berries and oranges, melon and papaya. Discarding the peels, Harry rinsed his hands and the cool stream of water caressed his fingers.
Returning to the center island, he assembled the fruit in the bowl and lightly tossed it with his usual serving spoon. Looking at the finished product, he wondered if the salad was somehow more vibrant, its succulent fruit a riot of color. Taking a deep, cleansing breath, Harry paused as he realized that it was a perfect moment. He washed the fruit board and wiped the counter, feeling an unusual yet welcome sense of accomplishment, a calm serenity. As the day progressed, the sense of wonder stayed with him. His mind kept touching upon the memory of his morning: the colors, smells, his feelings, the tastes.
In the afternoon, Harry got out his bicycle, strapped on his helmet and pedaled off into the sunshine down the local streets on his way to work. It felt good to stretch his legs and soon he was moving at a clip. Unbeknownst to Harry, he was about to have another perfect moment. Life was about to present him with a shock. As he pedaled down the street, Harry flashed back on his morning. He recalled making the salad in his mind’s eye, running through the details, savoring the perfection. His legs pumped in rhythm as his gaze turned inward and once again, fruit marched across his cutting board in colorful stripes. Suddenly Harry’s bike lurched. In an instant he was pitched over the handlebars. Time slowed. Sights and sounds crystallized. A woman screamed. Head over heels, he saw the incongruous sight of an upside-down police car. Then he landed in a heap on the asphalt. People rushed to his aid but miraculously he wasn’t hurt – just a few minor abrasions and a slightly damaged ego.
A short time later Harry stood on shaky legs preparing to resume his ride. The police officer and the good Samaritans had melted back into their own days and their own routines. If anyone had stayed there to watch, they would have seen a goofy grin spread over Harry’s face as he had a series of rapid-fire realizations. The accident had been totally his fault. Lost in thought, reliving his “perfect” moment, he had hooked a pedal on the curb and it had pitched him forward. Standing safely on the sidewalk, Harry was stunned to realize that each moment was perfect – not just those he preferred. He saw that when he was rerunning the past, he was no longer present, no longer in this instant of time. By rehashing even a perfect moment, he had made himself accident-prone. He climbed back on his bike, this time aware of his surroundings. Yes, this morning had been lovely and special and profound but time and his life had moved on. Taking a deep breath of air, Harry had yet another perfect moment… and another… and…