Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Moments Make up Life

Most of us think about life as flowing from one big event to another. And certainly, there is a flow. But now I think that life is really about little moments in time. The root of the word “momentous” is “moment.” Think about that. When we talk about something being a “momentous event” we are actually describing a tiny, emotion-laden instant in time, around which our lives may balance for only a few minutes, but which may change the course of our lives.

It might be, as Gwen Ellis describes it “A moment when our hearts nearly burst within us for the sheer joy of being alive. The first sight of our newborn babies, the warmth of love in another's eyes ....” Yes, and also the moment a few years ago when my son called the first day of a summer job and began his conversation with “Mom, there's this girl.....” In that instant his course toward his life-mate was set in motion. Last Saturday, for a moment, I glimpsed his face – as he watched his beautiful bride walk down the aisle.

Emotions are laced with memory. Memories are emotional moments. It's not just what happens, but how we feel about what happens. I don't think it is a coincidence that Moment and Memory are linguistically so close. It has been said that to remember the past is to sanctify the present. And what we remember are really those moments in time when life sounds the bell of fate and providence reaffirms that life, with all it's imperfections, is still worth it.

Sometimes we get almost more than we can handle. I have had reason, these past weeks to consider the entire spectrum of the human comedy – from birth through life, to death. For two days after my son's glorious wedding came my husband's birthday, on what would have been my Father's birthday, which was also the first anniversary of my Mother's passing. Oh how I miss my Mother, especially as Mother would have loved the wedding. We would surely have talked much about it in the days leading up to it and following it and she would have reveled in the presence of the entire family, come from afar to celebrate with us.

So many of us let our moments slide by, waiting for better parts of life. But those moments ARE life. I think the only guarantee we get is yesterday's memories and the precious here and now. As James Otto sings the Seth Godin words.... “These are the Good Old Days,” only most of us don't see the truth of it soon enough.

This past year I've tried to see the world with new eyes. Sometimes it takes a conscious effort to let the moments renew me instead of beat me down. But in the process there is a heartfelt appreciation of life stirring in me again. I hope the same will be true for you. You have the choice to embrace your moments rather than flow along through them. Life truly is beautiful once we decide to appreciate the moments for what they are. After all, as the writer Colette observed: “What a wonderful life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner!

©2009 Jan Johnson Wondra

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