How many times have you ever stopped in the afternoon or early evening, quietly reflected for a moment and given thanks for having been given a simply perfect day? The idea of calling any day “simply perfect” might seem downright weird for some folks. After all, what exactly defines a perfect day anyway? Is it when everything goes our way, just the way we wanted it to? Is it when nothing major goes wrong – is that even enough to qualify as perfect? For most of us, few days in our life may ever have seemed to have been simply perfect. I know that there are many days in life that are so great that we will never forget them, like when we got our first car, or gained the attention of someone we were infatuated with, or accomplished some great goal, or on our wedding day, or the day when our child was born. Actually, some of those may have had their perfect moments, although the rest of the day may have been filled with busyness, tension and melodrama. But days where most of the day qualifies as simply perfect seem few and far between. Is that just the way life is, or is there something in how we approach each day that opens us up to the possibility of sensing it as simply perfect? In my opinion, perfect days probably come along when we least expect them – as long as we are open enough inside to the possibility that they can even happen.
How rare is it for us to approach any day with few expectations of how we think it is going to go or without imposing our desire of how we want it to be? As I was going through some photographs I took, I came upon some images from a camping trip a few years ago that brought back the memories of one simply perfect day that deeply touched me. After a week of beach camping with extended family and friends, the final day came to leave, but my teenage son and I had the opportunity to stay one more day. After the crowd was packed up and gone, we settled into our little camp site, realizing we had zero provisions, zero cooking utensils and only a fire’s worth of wood. We did have our tent, sleeping bags, two guitars, two fold-up chairs and a beach town close enough to walk to. The day ended up being an improvisation of going and buying only what we needed for the time we would be there, figuring out what we would cook with only a small amount of aluminum foil and a camping knife. Around noontime, we walked to a nearby food stop called The Spot and bought a couple of bean burritos for lunch, then strolled back along the beach, sat down and ate our midday meal.
The afternoon was a lazy one of relaxing and talking at our campsite. My son laid down in the tent to take an afternoon nap and I took my camera down to the shore to snap photos of the beach and ocean. There was something extraordinary in the way the waves glistened, reflecting the brilliant sunlight – and I stood there in awe of how beautiful it all looked. When I returned, my son and I prepared and cooked a meal worthy of a gourmet – food never tasted as good as that simple, yet delicious, improvised dinner. As the daylight began to wane, the two of us strolled along the beach and watched the sun set, then returned to our camp fire to eat a tasty dessert we threw together and play guitar as we sat watching the fire’s flames dance in the oncoming darkness. As night came fully upon us, the sky was filled with an ocean of stars as we relaxed in our campsite. It was a day that I will always remember as a true gift. The pleasures that filled it were simple, yet sublime. I began the day with few expectations and savored every exquisite moment of it. I could never plan or produce another day like it – it was simply perfect. Its perfection didn’t come from the sum total of occurrences that filled it, but because it caught me with my guard down and I was completely open to its beauty. Your simply perfect day will probably find you, too, when you least expect it. May you experience many in your lifetime.