Of all emotions experienced by humans, the rarest and most precious of all is euphoria: those moments in which our souls are lifted up and carried to a place we wish we would never leave. We must, and do, of course, but the memory of those moments becomes a part of our being and remains with us forever.
The emotion of romantic love is the most frequent springboard to euphoria: being with someone you deeply love, a glance, a touch, just the sudden awareness of the love itself is enough to evoke euphoria. But almost any happy experience is, depending on the person and the circumstances, capable of triggering euphoria.
Possibly because I am a hopeless romanticist, I have been blessed to have experienced euphoria several times in my life, and I have placed each in a separate bell jar which I keep in the vast curio cabinet which is my mind. Whenever I look at them, I experience the residual warmth they still radiate.
Moments of euphoria are unique to the person experiencing them, and mine are certainly very different than yours, but if you don't mind, I'd like to point out just a few of those which have meant more to me than I could possibly describe.
I recall attending my first gay pride parade in San Franciso in the mid-to-late '70s, surrounded by tens of thousands of my own people holding rainbow flags and marching together down the packed streets in an atmosphere of...of belonging. The pure joy of knowing I was not, as I had been raised since childhood to assume I was, alone was exhilarating beyond description
I can and will never forget the euphoria experienced the day I, as a Naval Aviation Cadet, was on a solo flight and found myself in a "cloud valley" perhaps ten miles long and two miles wide surrounded by billowing cumulus clouds. The sky above was razor-sharp blue, and far below was the green and brown patchwork of farms and woods. To soar up and down that valley, doing aerobatics, barrel rolls and spins and up-and-over circles was an experience I'd never had before and knew I would never have again.
Possibly my most significant example of euphoria is unusual in that it was both cumulative and delayed, covering not a few moments, but several days, and I did not recognize it as euphoria until I was far enough removed from it to realize what it was and fully appreciate it. I'm referring to the time I spent in Cannes, France while still in the Navy, in the company of two German and two French young men...Gunter, Yoahchim, Marc, and Michele. It epitomized, for me, the indescribable joy of being unconditionally young and madly in love with life and the endless adventures it held in store. To this day, I have only to close my eyes and we are together again exactly as we were so very many years ago.
From the above paragraph, I hope you can appreciate my euphoria, fifty-five years later, on returning to Cannes to look for...and find...the battered concrete quay I was sure could not possibly still be there. To be standing once again on the very spot where, more than half a century before, Marc called out to me and a buddy from the Ticonderoga with whom I'd rented bicycles, "Hello, boys! Come on down!" Even now...even now the memory fills me with an overwhelming awe and happiness.
My recent return to Europe, brought me not one but two moments of euphoria, the first described above. The second occurred in Venice as I sat in the Piazza San Marco on a bright, warm April afternoon having a beer and listening to a small orchestra play in front of one of the restaurants lining the piazza. At that moment, I suddenly realized that I...me: insecure, self-deprecating, sometimes-teetering-on-the-edge-of-paranoia me...was sitting in the Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy, 4,650 miles from home, doing what millions of people would envy. It was the happiest I can remember having been in years. It was...well, euphoric.
Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to check out his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, the recently-released Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1 ).