Driving home from Shana's house, I was listening to Greg Brown's song, "If I Had Known," (I linked to the lyrics 'cause the YouTube video isn't the greatest!) and really not only listening but singing, loudly, off-key. I started thinking about whether or not there was anything I've experienced in my life that was the best that it will ever be. The best fishing? Well, possibly the fishing with my Grandpa Rance and Grandma Maggie when we pulled sun fish out of the water off of bare hooks. I wrote a Sestina about that experience, and it surely is the most memorable fishing experience of my life so far. But life is long, and fishing is full of great moments. What will be the greatest moment? "It's just as well, we don't know when things/ will never be that good again..."
The best kissing? Well, now, I've had some great kissing (mostly with my husband!) and some great memories that accompany those kisses. And the sweetest kisses ever are those from my little boys. The best writing? Well, there have been times when I've been awfully proud of something I have written, but that doesn't mean I don't have the need to write again, the next week, day, or minute. Writing is like breathing, with each breath following the next. Not all the breaths are going to be as fresh and pure as the gasp of wonder when you reached a mountain summit, but you don't stop breathing just because of that.
I'm trying to go somewhere with this piece of writing, trying to reach out and snap my fingers across a hidden string, making it vibrate and resonate just so inside my soul. I'm thinking about how strange it would be to know with certainty that this -- whatever this was -- is the best it's ever going to get. "And Jimmy, if I had known, I might have stopped fishing right then..." Wouldn't that be awful, to know that no matter what, it wasn't ever going to get that good again? I guess sometimes people reach that point in a career, or at least they may think they have. A pinnacle, from which the only direction is a descent. But then why go on?
Maybe that's why religion, the hope/faith in an afterlife, becomes so important to us. Why go on, if this is as good as it gets? Especially once the body and mind begin to deteriorate, can a person manage to greet each day joyfully, knowing that the best is not yet to come, that in fact it was long past?
Sometimes relationships can get that way, stuck looking backward, toward that time when we were happy, when we were free, when we were full of passion. When just a glance in the other's direction was enough to send us tumbling into ecstacies. So I guess that's when we've got to listen to the rest of the song.
"If I had known, I'd do it all over again. Some things just get better and better and better than they already been..." That's the way I want to think about most things in life.