What is a moment? Many dictionaries explain the word using different variations of time. Time is relative, right? The most common definition is an instant, less than a second, an indefinitely short period of time. A person of any age would agree. However, a younger man in his 20’s would have a hard time fully grasping the idea of a ‘moment’ described by a man in his 80’s, when that moment covers a span of many years. Relative. Depends on perspective.
To me a moment is so much more than just time. It is an event, events or series of events (I’m in my 40’s; moments can last longer than just an instant). We all have our moments, right? Good moments, bad moments, blonde moments, senior moments. I like to think of a moment as: A significant event or events in/of indefinite time that alter in some way what comes next. A juncture, a turning point, a tipping point. Life is full of such moments.
Today was an anniversary of such a moment. This moment was of the generic type, as in “instant”. A moment that changed the next six months of my life directly, and forever after indirectly. A year ago today I went out for a cup of coffee with a friend. We had already been friends online and in a writing group, but this was the first time we’d been face to face. That first second of eye contact when he walked into the coffee shop was a moment. It lasted an instant, with an impact that will last forever. He looked at me and smiled, and I knew. I’m not talking about chemistry. I’m talking about an intense connection of some sort of familiarity. I knew him, and he knew me; my first thought was along the lines of “Finally!” An instant space of recognition that challenges linear-time beliefs. I always knew him.
It has been almost eight months since he passed away, and now I look at the six months we had as another ‘moment’. One moment in time. Not quite an instant, but a short enough time period to qualify, for me, as a moment. The time since he passed is now longer than the time we spent physically together. That brief moment.
Two “moments.” Two different definitions. Relative to perspective.
Our lifetimes consist of moments strung together linearly, as we measure time in the here and now. Each event, happening, situation in our lives, both good and bad and even the ones we consider insignificant directly affect the moment after (again, linearly speaking). The movie “Sliding Doors” explains this perfectly, showing two storylines side by side of the same woman determined by whether or not she missed her train or did not miss her train. Dominoes. We knock this one down, it knocks the next one down, and so on. We are all familiar with this concept of how one event can significantly change our lives. The time we did not get on a plane that crashed, and the reason we didn’t (even if we thought at the time of not making the flight was a bad thing); the car accident we narrowly avoided, or the car accident we were involved in that for a second looked like it was going to be worse than it was; the near-death experiences; sickness, injury, loss of a job, death of a loved one or friend… Moments.
I guess an important thing to consider first of all, is that every moment we have is significant in some way to us because of the very fact that it affects the next. And, realizing that, we should also celebrate our moments, our every breaths, because some of them–or at some point in our linear time, all of them–will be gone.
I went back to that coffee shop today to celebrate that first moment. (Of course, it wasn’t all celebration.) For the next few months I’m sure I will be re-living many other moments, and I may be sad at times, especially nearing the date that he passed. I’m learning (SLOWLY) to appreciate all of my moments. –No. That’s not quite right. Let me rephrase: I do know how special they were, I appreciate the moments themselves, but I get angry sometimes that they were “taken away”—so I guess I’m learning not to appreciate just the moments so much but to also appreciate that I got them at all. I know many people who feel their bad moments outweigh their good moments. This has been a (rather hard) lesson in appreciating allof my moments, in all of my lifetime up to this point. Even the bad ones, because I would not be able to see any good if there wasn’t the contrast of what I consider “not good” (the two endings of the movie “Sliding Doors” also emphasize this point—but I won’t give it away).
Hey, I know what I mean.
For whatever reason, I have always been an optimist. I can’t take credit for this, because it’s always been that way; I never triedto be. My glass has always been at least half full. I will never be the person who feels the good in her life has been out-shadowed by bad. I consider myself fortunate, generally speaking (even if I have something new to bitch about daily!). But there is always room for improvement. Not only will I try to celebrate my individual moments, but I will try to appreciate that I had the opportunity for them, both good and what I perceive to be not-so-good. Then, if I choose to look back, I can still smile at allof them.
And, because I’m totally corny, and because something always reminds me of a song: It Only Takes a Moment (Hello Dolly)