There is a great quote by Buddhist Jack Kornfield that goes, “After ecstasy, the laundry.” I am reminded of it now because we are just coming off of an amazing weekend at the wedding of my husband’s brother and his wonderful new bride. (Congratulations, Michael and Jenny! You two were beautiful.)
Weddings are always special, and this one was made even more so by the fact that my daughter Marlowe was the flower girl and my son Dylan was one of the ring bearers. They had a blast, and then danced the night away at the reception following the ceremony. We got home late last night, and I warned Marlowe that she would probably wake up feeling very grumpy this morning, and not at all in the mood to go to school. (And indeed, her temper tantrum began before her eyes were even open.)
It’s the post-ecstasy blues, when you have to return to “real life” after one of those special moments in time—after a wedding, a perfect vacation, a prom, a winning game, an awards ceremony, a perfectly executed sales pitch. I don’t know about you, but it always happens to me. Because in those moments it's like real life stands still and a magical world replaces it-- where lines get softer and everything is surrounded by a glow. Where laughter and joy are abundant and worries slip into the shadows. These are the moments that take on a blurry quality and leave us with a breathless "Just that just happen?" feeling.
And then POOF!—in a snap they are gone, and what we are left with is the laundry. Is the return to work. Is the normal day-to-day of our lives. And because they were blurry to begin with, they are slippery to try and hold on to. I still vividly remember after my husband and I got married, 14 ½ years ago, and I went back to work being like, “Hello?????? What’s wrong with you people? Don’t you know I just got married? Why are you all riding the subway like it’s some normal day? Where’s the cake? Why aren’t you dancing? What do you mean you need me to do this report? I’m a BRIDE, people!!!”
So, poor Marlowe just had to get on the bus like a regular old kid today, without her beautiful flower halo and without the glow of the attention of a 100+ admirers. And Dylan is just having a regular play day without an entire dance floor at his disposal to practice his killer moves, including a “Risky Business”-worthy slide across the floor. And they may both have a bit of a feeling of sadness today—or maybe not quite sadness, but maybe an indescribable empty feeling. But if they do, that’s okay.
Because these “ecstasy” moments—well they aren’t meant to be more than moments. They are so special precisely because they are like wormholes in the dimension of our regular lives, where we get to briefly slip into another world, and then come back to our own. But if we’re mindful of that, we can bring some of the remnants of ecstasy back with us. When we do the laundry we can appreciate the clothes we’re washing and the fun we had while wearing them. We can accompany our commute with a mental soundtrack and slideshow of the glorious time we’ve just had. We can ride the energy of the event that allowed us to step out of our comfort zone and maybe try a new kind of food or dance or talk to strangers, and we can try to incorporate some of that into our regular work day.
So as Marlowe is walking down the hallway at school today, I hope she has a moment of remembering walking down the aisle at the wedding ceremony, adorning the path with beautiful fall leaves, and I hope the memory of that causes her to pick up her step, hold her head high, and keep a sparkle in her eye.
What “ecstasy” can you bring to the laundry today?