What’s it all about, Alfie?

I heard that song eons ago as a kid and wondered why anyone would ask such a stupid question. Now, decades later, I get it – because I have pondered for years on that very question, even though I still don’t know who Alfie is.

Put another way, one might ask, “What is the meaning of life?” If Monty Python hasn’t answered that for you, perhaps you are still asking as well.

I will post this disclaimer at the outset and readily admit that I don’t have all the answers, and I certainly don’t purport to be able to answer for you. But for me, I’m starting to come to some realizations.

It’s all about the “moments.”

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? And it is. You probably know the ones I mean.

Here are a few examples from my past couple of weeks:

  • Sharing meals, laughs and stories with family and friends – and a puppy.
  • Shopping thrift sales with my sister-in-law and finding “treasures” for just a few dollars.
  • Listening with a couple of friends to live music on the banks of the beautiful May River on a breezy summer night.
  • Sitting in my backyard with my husband, listening to crickets and baby birds chirp while recounting events of the day.
  • Chatting with a teenager about whatever topic rises to the surface, or about nothing in particular.
  • Finishing a particularly nice coloring page in a new book.
  • Getting stuck in traffic on the bridge, which allowed me to notice the baby ospreys in their nest atop an electrical tower.

When these moments occur, I sometimes feel a kind of mild euphoria that starts in my chest. I can describe it only as a sense of “overwhelm” – if that’s a real noun. (If not, it should be.)

I know I’m not the only one who experiences these little rushes of mellow adrenalin, these magic segments of time when all seems right with the world.

After a friend’s dinner party a while ago, I had thanked her again for a lovely evening and mentioned my sense of ease, enjoyment and perfection with her and her other guests.

Her face lit up and she said, “I know! I stood there in the kitchen and just listened to my friends talking with one another, with music playing in the background, and the aroma of the lasagna cooking. Everything was just right. And I thought, ‘This is what it’s all about.’ “

Mostly, life’s moments are rather ordinary, but perhaps what makes the difference is that we share them with good friends and loved ones. Perhaps it’s how we engage, absorb and react to those moments that make them magical.

I recently interviewed Edwin McCain, a musician who is coming to town for a special performance. (See our “That’s the Ticket” section, page 3B, for my story.) In researching his website for background, I found the following quote from him:

“It just has to do with people coming together and sharing a moment, that’s it. And that’s all I ever wanted to do. I just love that moment in the small club and bar where every single person in there has a moment where it’s silent and they get it and it’s beautiful, that moment where the music that’s coming off the stage is much more than the players and much more than the audience and something happens and you’re sitting there and your hair stands up. That’s it, man. I love it.”

I get what he means.

This is what it’s all about, Alfie.