Smiles and Kisses
Nothing can ever happen twice.
In consequence, the sorry fact is
that we arrive here improvised
and leave without the chance to practice…
Why do we treat the fleeting day
with so much needless fear and sorrow?
It’s in its nature not to stay:
today is always gone tomorrow.
With smiles and kisses, we prefer
to seek accord beneath our star,
although we’re different (we concur)
just as two drops of water are.
-Wislawa Symborzska, from “Nothing Twice”
Symborzska’s poem reminds us to stay present. Why? Because, as she writes in the first line—nothing can ever happen twice. This moment happening right now is irreplaceable.
Faced with this truth and with the precarious and often unpredictable nature of life, how do we respond? Symborzska offers two possible answers. We can either treat the fleeting day with so much needless fear and sorrow or we can with smiles and kisses…prefer to seek accord.
But, these two choices offered to us are highly nuanced. I don’t believe that declining fear and sorrow means that we deny our feelings and thoughts and need to make plans. The problems only arise when our concerns propel us out of the present, and we become anxious about the future and obsessed with the past.
And similarly, seeking accord with smiles and kisses doesn’t mean that we ignore the real challenges in our lives. It doesn’t mean that we stop locking our doors and embrace someone who means to do us harm. Rather, I think the smiles and kisses reflect a mindset—one that is open to the moment and present with whatever is happening.
So we have a choice; personally, I choose rainbows and sunshine and colorful art painted by my daughter, and puppy kisses–even on days like today, when it’s cold and my body aches, and I miss loved ones. Soak it in; it never happens twice.