This afternoon, I met one of my aunts after a long time over lunch. Her personality is such that it fills the room. While describing her later to my partner, my mom used the word ‘enthusiastic’: “She is such an enthusiastic soul. We all ate the same vada, but she’s going to go about telling 200 people what a wonderful vada it was. We all go to the same holidays, but she can’t stop describing how beautiful and heavenly it is, while the rest of us may have found it boring. For her, everything is amazing and awesome.”
This aunt of mine is 78 years old, and has had three heart surgeries. She’s also lived a rough life, and been through more than her share of loss and pain. But, as my mom put it, her joie de vivre has remained intact despite all her sorrows. On the drive back from my parents’ home, I told my partner, “I hope I am able to be like her when I’m her age. She really lives it up.” If life is a celebration, then despite all her ailments, this aunt of mine really is living it up — honouring every moment, praising every bite she eats to the skies, greedy for new experiences, fawning over every piece of jewellery she comes across (and buys), demanding her piece of the earth and the sky. You can’t help but smile around her.
This evening, while taking the dogs for a walk, we also took them on a short car drive around the building’s parking lot since I had some work. It then struck me how enthusiastic these two dogs were about just about everything — new walking route? Okay (tails wagging)! Get into a car? Okay sure thing (tails wagging)! Wait in the car while mama fiddles with some luggage in the back? Okay (curious face but tails wagging)! Sit in the backseat while she drives around the building? Okay (wobbling from side to side but tails wagging)! Mama has stopped the car? Okay (poking their faces into the driver’s seat in love, tails wagging)! Jump out now? Okey dokey (tails wagging)! Another impromptu walk around the block? Yay (lords of their domain, tails wagging)! The entire 20-minute experience was one of excitement and enthusiasm for the most mundane of things — mundane for me, an adventure for them.
I could not help but smile. Their happiness was contagious.
I thought of lunch with my aunt and I thought of the drive with the dogs when I got back home later in the evening. Together they demonstrated to me the value of celebrating the commonplace, seeing the God in everyday occurences, savouring the divine in the simple plate of vada, the drive around the block. Theirs is a simple, heartfelt, benevolent world. If I look through their eyes, I’d never run out of material all my life — they’d find not just 100 but a 100 million paths to God in the city.
‘Enthusiasm’ has a Greek root, meaning ‘the God inside’. Finding God then is as simple as being enthusiastic — about all the little moments, every moment of our lives.