Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Seizing the Moments

Me and my cousins, 1955. That's me sucking my thumb.
 At this special time of year I’ve been thinking back on a bit of personal history, and the issue of time passing too quickly. And what to do about it.

I’d like to say I have the answer to making time slow down, but alas, that bit of quantum physics or science fiction or Divinity escapes me. But I have figured out a way to minimize my regrets.

My concern about time-passing started a few years ago when I realized I didn’t remember my 30's. An entire decade was a blur. Why? Because the years were consumed with the logistics of being married, working, and raising three kids. My days were completely filled with have-to-dos and should-dos and love-to-dos. When I looked to the left then looked to the right, ten years had passed. Whoosh!

The prime years of my life a blur? That made me incredibly sad. But recognizing this made me stop a moment to think about the happy moments in my life that I did remember vividly. Chaotic Christmases with extended family, the abundance of cookies and laughter filling us up. The family vacations where I packed a Goody-Bag full of small surprises to be doled out to wiggly children when the miles seemed to go on forever. Or waiting backstage for my entrance in a community theatre production of “My Fair Lady”, looking up into the dark recesses of the ceiling where catwalks, lights, and scenery lay waiting, thinking about the joy I got from being on stage. These snippets of my life still make me smile and feel warm inside. But they were snippets that couldn’t be retrieved because life has gone on.

In hindsight I recognized how special these times were--but did I know it at the time? Did I stop and think, I need to appreciate this moment because it’s precious?

Not often enough. And the regret made me ache inside. Why didn’t I wallow in those moments? Why was I so busy with today and the next day, that I took those treasured times for granted?

How could I eliminate this regret in the future?

It was a wake-up call. I had to find a way to more fully appreciate the moments of life because now, at age 57, the years are rushing past way too quickly. Ten years from now I do not want to look back on this year and find it a blur.

And so I became determined to have no more regrets—at least not about this. I vowed to enjoy each moment and appreciate it for what it is. To pause just a wee bit and think, This is special. This is good. This is what life is all about. To really see and hear and touch and smell and taste life.

To pause. That’s the key. To pause and relish it all.

I'm not always successful in remembering “to pause”, but I'm getting better at it. For instance, we now have all three kids and their spouses in town and see them and the grandkids often. I do not take that for granted, but fully engage myself in now, and absorb the moments we have together. Like a sponge in water, I soak it all in.

This attempt to appreciate the moment has also made me more defensive of my time. Recently I've dropped two big, weekly obligations that I was involved in for years because I realized where I wanted to be was home. It was a been-there-done-that realization that has given me the gift of time. Free time. When we're younger we feel an obligation to DO. But that's fading for me. I'm content to HAVE DONE things, and move forward with fewer HAVE-TO-DO burdens.

To remind myself to appreciate the here and now, I created a plaque in my house that says, "Now is the most wonderful time of the year." It’s displayed every day, through every now, because the truly memorable moments of life aren’t always connected to the big celebrations, but to the small moments, the tick and the tock of two seconds that are perfect and splendid because we are simply alive.

And so dear readers, start giving yourself the gift of NOW. Now. Amid the busyness of life find peace and joy in one fine moment. And then, another. And another. For God is good, and life is a gift to be cherished.

And now is the most wonderful time of the year.


  1. Hi Nancy:

    I’m ten years older than you and I too have experienced ‘missing decades’. Those memories are not lost however. While you can’t retrieve them in toto like watching a movie, you can access them with a cross reference. For example: children born, people dying; family vacations; small victories (getting a poem published); disappointments (not making the cheerleading squad) plus a thousand other identifiable events.

    While you can stop and smell the roses, time is still going to speed by. It’s just that the game is different when you in the stands than when you are on the playing field.

    Merry Christmas.


  2. Ditto to everything you said...I'm 60 years old and wonder "Where did the time go?". Learning now to appreciate and savor every moment. Great post!

  3. Thanks for the comments, Vince and Veronica. I'm even getting to the point where I'm thinking "I only have so many vacations left. Where do I really want to go?" It almost sounds fatalistic, yet I don't think it's a bad thing to seek out quality times. To choose wisely.