Have you ever experienced pure bliss?
I did recently. I’m going to try to explain it – though I’m not sure I fully can.
It is unadulterated joy. Not the kind of joy where you are sitting there with a cocktail in your hand watching a sunset and thinking to yourself, “Wow, this is pretty and peaceful, I sure am happy.”
Even as I sit here typing this, I know it is going to sound corny. I can feel your eyes start to roll and doubt start to form. But it was the type of joy where everything before you shrinks away and the universe sort of reveals itself. You are in complete vibrational harmony and you feel the truth flow through you. I kid you not.
Allow me to set the scene before you move on. My wife and I took a vacation to Cancun last month. She was riding the stationary bike at the resort fitness center, so I decided to go to the restaurant, sip an espresso and look at the ocean.
I sat at a table right next to the beach. It was 82 degrees. Mexican servers wearing crisp white uniforms were buzzing around on a red-tiled floor. A tropical breeze was blowing strongly enough that you could hear the palm fronds whipping about in the trees above. Sea birds floated aloft in the winds. Light blue waves rolled in and crashed a foamy white on the shore.
I was about to get out my phone and catch up on the news, but I decided that being there, in that place, in that moment, was enough; I didn’t need the distraction of walls and emergencies and caravans.
As soon as I made the decision, I will just say an existential, out-of-body peacefulness, joyfulness and serenity overcame me. I had no drugs or alcohol in me, and yet it was the most euphoric sensation I have ever experienced.
I knew it, too. Although I had never before felt something like this in my life, I somehow knew exactly what was happening. Yogis seek it through hours of intense meditation, and there I was realizing enlightenment in the middle of a buffet restaurant in Mexico. Life is crazy.
When he coached the Chicago Bulls, Phil Jackson, a practitioner of Zen Buddhism, used to tell Michael Jordan something that I have always remembered, something that seems obvious but is difficult to master: Be present and live in the moment.
And so I did. I sat there in rapture, caught somewhere between wanting to cry and wanting to laugh, soaking in the otherworldly bliss I was certain was going to be fleeting.
I told you that you may not believe it, that it may sound corny. You have to experience it to appreciate it. Without trying to sound condescending, if you have, then you know you have. If you have a doubt, then you haven’t. That’s all I can tell you.
The baffling part is, I’m not even sure what brought it on. Maybe sleep – real sleep. Maybe knowing that, for a short time, work couldn’t reach me. Maybe acknowledging that my kids were safe and happy. Maybe the sounds of the winds and the waves massaging and caressing my psyche. Maybe being surrounded by thousands of other happy, relaxed souls. Maybe all of it. I suspect I’ll never know.
As I sat there in that state for perhaps five minutes, my wife approached. She had a smile on her face and a bounce to her step. She took her Airpods out of her ears and popped them in mine. On her phone, she played for me the song “Good Day” by Nappy Roots.
It was as if she knew. And all I could do was laugh.