With the onset of the hustle and bustle of every day life, it is so easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of our lives and lose sight of having fun. Sometimes we are too busy rushing to stop for a moment and observe, or soak in the moment. The other morning my daughter and I were running late, as is usually the case around our home during the weekdays. I was very uptight and kept prodding her to focus on doing only what was necessary to get out of the house.
After finishing breakfast she began to get her children’s gummy bear vitamins out of their container. I told her that since we were running late she would have to take them on our way to school, rather than stand there chewing one vitamin at a time. There were about 6 to chew. When you are running late, even the anticipation of waiting for a child’s every chomp, knashing each individual gushy gummy bear, appears like an eternity rather than seconds. She agreed to take them with her. Then she reached for a paper towel, and retrieved a magic marker and proceeded to write in large letters, on the towel. Each letter appeared to be formed with such intent, that I could feel the clock ticking. Okay, so I was feeling very impatient.
At this point I’m thinking, “We are already late! This is way too much! This kid needs to learn time management!” Just then, I couldn’t take it anymore and was about to blurt out something like “ I thought I told you that we are running late. We don’t have time to...” When, my eyes, following her concentrated hand movements, were forced to see what was really going on here. This wonderful child of mine was writing: “Vitamins. Take after breakfast.” As I stared at her, I couldn’t help but smile when I realized that she was doing something so very much like what my dad would do. He lives over 2,000 miles away in NYC. Remarkably she's not around her grand-pa enough to have picked up on this by observation. It was heartwarming and at the same time humorous to see my Dad’s genes coming out in her. He is very much one to write instructions to himself. I continued to smile as I realized further that my older sister is the same way about writing down instructions.
I continued to observe, as my daughter carefully positioned her vitamins in a row on the paper, as she asked me “Did you take your calcium pills yet?” I sheepishly admitted “No, not yet.” She responded with excitement: “I know! Every morning I can put your calcium pills and my vitamins on this paper towel so we won’t forget to take them!” “What a great idea!” I exclaimed with a smile. The kind of smile that originates from deep within the heart, when one realizes something very pure and loving about the miraculous moment one is in the midst of observing. This very scene could have so easily turned out differently, had I continued in my stressful rush and impatient inner dialogue. Yes we were late. Yes, that is certainly a fact. But what a waste of a beautiful moment, had I, obsessing over that fact, not allowed myself to see what was in front of me. I had a window before me, allowing me to learn something new about my 9 year old. I would have missed it entirely had I allowed the curtains of impatience to blind me. This would have stopped her dead in her tracks before she had a chance to display her concern and care for me.
In this moment I saw how thoughtful and sweet my child is. How organized and detailed she is. How methodical and instructionally oriented she is. How she did listen to me when I told her to take her vitamins after breakfast. Had I lost my patience, I would not have allowed her to complete playing out this moment. In this moment, we both created a memory and I was there to soak it all in. Only with a peaceful countenance could I have allowed this moment to play out uninterrupted. Giving her the chance to be herself, and me the chance to observe this morsel of a memorable moment. I won’t forget how she looked as she concentrated while writing on the napkin, without knowing that I was watching her, with loving eyes soaking her in.
Memories are simple moments observed. Memories don’t have to be super fantastic, Fourth of July displays of action-filled momentum. Those are very memorable too. But face it; you can’t have these every day. But quiet observances are like little miracles you can have available to you throughout the day. A sprinkling of smile generating, heart-warming moments consistently accompanying us every day, are only ours if we are willing to soak these moments in. If we stop to be present to what’s already unfolding before us.
Sometimes memories, like this one, are created during moments of spontaneity. But also, memories can be made by taking some time to plan something special. In either case, it takes intentionality to put it into motion. We need to be more intentional with making memories. Life is too beautiful, and short, to allow it to slip out of our grasp. If we live our lives with intention, we don’t let life slip by us. We are present to the “moments” of this very special life, granted to us.
Often I’ve heard it said, "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a present." We should see every day as a present granted to us; not to be taken for granted. But rather to be lived as intentionally as possible, to get the most out of it. Being present to your present, is the miracle you can witness on a daily basis. Because in the unfolding of the moment, the blessing will arrive.
Have you ever seen a child eat an icicle stick, the frozen flavored ice in a long rectangular plastic wrapper? Every pass of their tongue over that icicle is a celebration of the taste buds. They smile as they soak in the flavor. When they get to the very bottom of the wrapper, and you think the entire frozen icicle is gone, they are still actively slurping, looking for the very last drop of the sweet juice. They don’t give up easily. They keep licking until it is all licked dry. The delight on their face is apparent, long after the icicle is gone. They enjoyed every moment of that icicle stick. They were intentional in every lick. Every lick had purpose; the purpose of savoring the icicle. They don’t slam it down, leaving no trace of memory or flavor. Long after finishing it, they have clear evidence on their face, that they had an icicle and enjoyed it, to boot! Such is the way we should be with living our lives. Moments with our loved ones, with our friends, or new people coming into our lives, should be greeted with great intent and savoring, lest they be gone and we have no trace of having shared a memory.
The life which we are given, is like a gift that we unwrap day by day, discovering within every day, a seed, spurning us on to grow, and learn something new that will help evolve us into what God intends us to be. Part of that intention is gratitude for the gifts we receive. Gratitude for the memories we intentionally set about to create. What better gratitude than to honor and appreciate each moment we are gifted the opportunity to live. Why not be focused and present to the moment, so we can create a memory that lasts a lifetime?
This memory happened for me some 5 years ago. I remember it as if it were yesterday. Firstly because I wrote it down (in my journal), but also because I took the time to observe and allow this instant to become a memory I treasure. Let’s be more like children and savor the present moment. By doing so we preserve these moments into memories. Here’s to making a lifetime of memories, one moment at a time!