Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Satori in Starbucks with Ella and Louis

I’ve had a good Easter weekend, busy and happy, and yet somehow it all looks and feels different in the light of a few moments at noon yesterday. The smallest thing can change everything. Describing it like that, it just sounds a little odd; I will try to explain.

I had a ticket for a matinée at Covent Garden and had gone up into the West End on the tube. I was looking forward to seeing Yuhui Choe dancing Lise for the first time (Yuhui Choe is wonderful). The starting time was an irritating one;12.30 instead of the more usual matinée time of 2 pm. So I found myself sitting in Starbucks on the Strand, just before midday, having a quick sandwich and a coffee. I never have lunch before 12 noon! – my stomach rumbled at the unexpected food, and I anticipated belching like a marine through most of Act One.

My back hurt from all the gardening I’d been doing on Sunday. My black coffee tasted good. Outside the sun was shining down on the traffic and the crowds. Three bluetits flew into the street tree opposite and hopped around feeding. A bus went by carrying a poster for the movie “Remember me”, with the tag line “Live in the moments”, and I thought with amusement that this was exactly that; then at the same moment one more simple thing happened; the hi-fi in the café started to play Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong singing “They can’t take that away from me”.

It’s hard to put this into words; I realise that “satori” is a grand term for a humble and fleeting experience, but it is the only word I know. I was suddenly more there than before; fully there, in the moment I was there; fully in my aching body and fully in the crowded café, with the light falling in the street outside, the table leg pressed against my leg, and my mind for a moment utterly silent; just being there. I felt alive to an unearthly degree, as if full of light. Everything was beautiful. Everything; the street, the coffee, the shouting French tourists, the cheese sandwich, the back-ache, the birds now flying off again, the faces of strangers passing. My anticipation passed from me. My fears and hopes passed from me. My memories passed from me. I just was. And Ella and Louis sang on; and then the moment passed from me also.

But it remains, too, in some strange way. Knowing I have been there again (it has happened before, although rarely enough that sometimes I think it was a dream, or something that perhaps now I am too old, too busy, too much in-my-head to reach again), I can still feel an infinitesimal thread of connection to that moment, that light, that sense of oneness and of the being-ness, the rightness of things.

And after that, “La Fille Mal Gardée” was great fun, too. Yuhui Choe was lovely, Brian Maloney was lovely (and has turned into a hunk when I wasn’t looking!), and Philip Mosley was an unusually sweet-natured Widow Simone. And I made myself a fine curry for supper. It was a good day.


miss*R said...

never heard of the word 'satori'.. but I have moments like that often.. and I want to bottle it. I want to grasp that 'satori' moment with both hands and never let it go.. but it disappears but is still there like you say.. like a bubble of excitement just before Christmas... do you know what I mean?

Imogen said...

I know exactly what you mean! A form of magic... In the moment, yet forever tingling in nuances of memory; one can't catch it yet it never leaves even as it flies away. Wierd and wonderful.

wanderer said...

I've read this three times, coming back to it, loving it, in Starbucks, not some bluebell-fairy-dell-lolly-gobble bliss-bomb moment but transcendent awareness.

Imogen said...

"transcendental awareness" sounds so grand, and yet perhaps the funniest thing about this feeling is that when it hits, it doesn't feel transcendental but normal and natural. As well as wonderful...

Hope you're well over there in NSW; nice to see you, Wanderer!