Kristan and I recently watched the remarkable movie, “Boyhood” which chronicles the life of a boy as he grows from a young child of 7 to a young man of 18. There was a lot that struck me about the movie, but one of the most poignant moments was in a conversation he has with a young girl he meets his freshman year in college. “You know how everyone’s always saying seize the moment?” she asks. “I don’t know, I’m kind of thinking it’s the other way around, you know, like the moment seizes us.”
On a personal level, I find this profoundly true. I often find myself racing through the tasks of life only to drop into bed and sadly reflect on all the moments I lost; the ones I was too busy to allow to sink in. When one of my daughters just wanted me to take a second to watch her do a cartwheel, or my son wanted 15 minutes of my time to share his enthusiasm for the latest Marvel fact he learned from the internet, or the simple joy of soaking in those tight hugs from kids who, before I know it, will be like the kid in the movie, grown up and having existential moments in college. I am often too busy to allow the moments to capture me.
The opposite is also true, when I am so busy trying to capture every moment, draining every single ounce of value from the day that I don’t just allow the day to impact me. I can’t be the only one who feels this way. In fact, I would argue its a widespread problem in our culture. In many ways, society trains us to do this. We are terrified of losing out or missing something, which is why we rarely have a quiet moment. Ironically, we are so busy racing around trying to have experiences, that we often miss the ones we are offered. We rarely just sit back and experience the life we have. We flee moments hoping for the next one we are convinced will be better, or try to doctor them for a “likeable” Facebook post, rather than letting them truly and fully sink into our being.
Life is too darn short to miss these moments. It recalls a poem that hangs on the wall of my buddy Stu’s mountain house. It’s called, “I’d Pick More Daisies”, by Nadine Stair. She wrote it when she was 85 and was reflecting on her life:
If I had my life to live over,
I’d try to make more mistakes next time.
I would relax. I would limber up.
I would be sillier than I have on this trip.
I would be crazier. I would be less hygienic.
I would take more chances, I would take more trips.
I would climb more mountains, swim more rivers,
and watch more sunsets.
I would burn more gasoline. I would eat more ice cream and less beans.
I would have more actual troubles and fewer imaginary ones.
You see, I am one of those people who lives
prophylactically and sensibly and sanely,
hour after hour, day after day.
Oh, I have had my moments
And if I had it to do over again, I’d have more of them.
In fact, I’d try to have nothing else.
Just moments,one after another.
Instead of living so many years ahead each day.
I have been one of those people who never go anywhere
without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a gargle, a
raincoat, and a parachute.
If I had to do it over again, I would go places and do things.
I’d travel lighter than I have.
If I had my life to live over, I would start barefooted
earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall.
I would play hooky more. I wouldn’t make such good grades
except by accident.
I would ride on merry-go-rounds.
I’d pick more daisies!
Life is short, so let’s not allow those precious moments to pass us by. Let’s both capture them and allow them to capture us. It goes fast.