Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pondering the things that matter

I'm learning, slowly, that life doesn't always follow a set script, that sometimes it takes a path that's light years away from the one you originally envisioned.

We've been reconnecting with family this week, spending time with parents/grandparents and trying to remind ourselves why moments like this matter as much as they do. And the only answer I can come up with is this: Because it can all disappear in a blink.

Sometimes you have fair warning and sometimes you don't. Either way, there's no guarantee that the folks who ground you will be there tomorrow. So you linger over goodbyes and take pictures - real ones and mental ones - because you just don't know. Indeed, you never know.

Since this life thing is so ephemeral, I decided this week to get back to base principles. I swam with our kids and sat with my wife. I stretched out my walks with the dog and worked beside a quiet river. I convinced my son to ride shotgun with me when I got called in to do a bunch of interviews, and we ended up making indelible memories – for him and for me - along the way. Nothing earth shattering or headline-worthy. Just us, doing neat, unscripted things as life gave us the opportunity to do so.

Work got done late at night. And when my BlackBerry fried itself and my laptop decided to stop talking to the rest of the world, it took a bit of a break, too. Manyana, I said...life's too short to worry about things over which I have no control. And everything got fixed in the end. And the world continued to spin on its axis.

I have no idea what the future holds for anyone. But as my son and I drove home from the last interview (where the very kind producer allowed him to sit in the studio as I spoke live) and he picked up my camera and shot pictures of a brilliant evening sky, I realized there's nothing we can do about life's little cruelties, the realities of mortality and illness that often derail the most carefully laid plans. So we may as well make little moments like this happen as often and as vibrantly as we can.

I'm privileged to have had the chance to experience these moments with a rapidly growing teenager whose looks and overall sense of being are remarkably, almost frighteningly like mine. I'm privileged to have had the chance to swim with my youngest, to wave to him underwater for the umpteenth time that day, just because. I'm privileged to have sat with our daughter on the hallway floor as we tried to convince the dog to drink more water after coming in from a particularly hot and humid walk. It was the kind of week I wish I could have more of, and wish it didn't have to be so finite.

None of these moments will matter much to anyone outside our immediate family. But nothing could mean more to me. I guess I'll have to keep reminding myself to focus on the small stuff as my way of dealing with everything an unpredictable, sometimes mean-spirited world can throw out.

Your turn: Small moments. Big impact. Please discuss.

14 comments:

Bernie said...

Oh Carmi, yes, how things can change in a blink...

In April, I found this out the hardest way of all! My wife was finally fulfilling her dreams, pregnant and carrying twins. Then, just after Easter, a pulmonary thromboembulism tok her, and the twins away from me...

So yes, whilst you can, enjoy every single minute you have with your family...

Bernie AussiePomm use to be burntofferings

Breakthrunow - inspire.collaborate.sustain said...

Life journey is more important than its destination...career, wealth, power, or fame are more diversionary detours.

JR
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http://www.breakthrunow.com

Mrs. Fun said...

The little moments all add up to a big moment.
The times my daughter and I just sit and chat about nothing and everything are my favorite little moments. I know that it keeps communication open if there is ever a BIG moment that needs talking about.
The times I watch my husband playing wifle ball in the street with the boys, it's a little moment the boys will remember for a lifetime.

Breeze said...

yesterday, standing onshore at the London, Ontario(yeah, I was in your home town in Fanshawe park) watching pink carnations that were tossed on the lake by boatloads of breast cancer survivors, a moving moment, and I looked at the water, the trees and the sky, and that moment, I was in touch with something larger than words can express, an instant and memorable gift, love was tangible, I could see it, feel it and touch it, at that moment. Just one person in a crowd, alone, but part of something greater than me.

Life is lived in moments and captured in memories.

Breeze

quilly said...

I just went home for a quick visit. I have to cross an ocean to get there and don't go often, but I had to be on the mainland so thought I should make a brief pit stop home.

I hadn't seen my Aunt & Uncle in 4 years. I only meant to stay for a moment but I spent the entire afternoon. I walked through the garden with my aunt, met her pets and all the farm animals, and chatted with my uncle about old cars and photography.

You see, in my mind I am still a kid and they are still young and spry, but when I stepped into their home I realized that isn't reality. They are both in their eighties. Soon I may not have a choice in whether or not I visit them, so I rearranged my schedule on the spot.

Sometimes we get so wrapped up and busy that we let unimportant things take paramount positions in our lives.

Mojo said...

I think maybe the reason I'm so fond of photography is that it captures these seemingly insignificant moments, records them for me and for those who come after me. I can remind myself of the small-big moments, and tell the story of them to the generations that come after I'm dust.

This really isn't one of those moments, it was one of several on the day I shot it... moments that made me think, made me wonder.

Thematic Photographic 62: "Abandoned" v.5.0 - "Once Upon a Town"

Awareness said...

For the first time in a very long time, I'm home alone for a week. Me and Lily my dog.... It has been a slow meandering weekend. It's hot and i have no car until tomorrow.... so I've been laying low, reading, writing, drinking tea and visiting those small moments you so beautifully described here. Those little memories, gems all of them, float up to the surface of our thinking when we slowdown.....

Melli said...

I'll tell ya what I've discovered about the BIG moments... and the small moments. They ARE huuuuuge memories for US. Not so big for the kids. When my kids were small, we made the decision to shorten our income BY HALF so that I could stay home and raise the kids. This was sO important to both of us, and worth absolutely every PENNY I didn't make! So I stayed home, and I taught them, and I played with them, and I planned really COOL field trips to take them on (that cost nothing because we had NO money!) and even once they were all in school - then I became a substitute teacher and went to school WITH them and still participated in EVERYTHING! Every field trip, every class party, every "occasion" that came up. I ran Book Fair and I ran our school's chapter of a national art contest! I was sure I was making SPECTACULAR memories for my kids! But it turned out that I was really only making them for ME! My kids remember VERY LITTLE of what we did! BUT... the things they DO remember are really the smallest of the small! They remember me sitting on the cul-de-sac drawing Ninja Turtles with chalk for them! And they remember the tire swing that used to hang in our backyard -- until lightening hit the tree... what a SAD day that was! I was very disappointed to find out the other day that they only vaguely remember me READING to them -- 3 stories EVERY night! What's up with THAT? LOL! My eldest is now 32 - my youngest is 20 next month! Where did all those memories go? There STUCK - in MY head!!!

Thom said...

What an excellent post my friends. The small stuff so does matter in life as life is to short as it is. Wonderful. If I could only have back a death that happened 19 years ago yesterday, I would be a very happy man. But the memories still are there and again some day our paths hopefully will cross. :)

lissa said...

It was the kind of week I wish I could have more of, and wish it
didn't have to be so finite.


Perhaps the substance will change and the content shift. But you WILL have more like these, and they AREN'T finite - not only because you and Debbie continue to create these moments for yourselves and your children, but because you immortalize and share these moments with your readership. So not only are the ersatz little moments bigger than all that, they are inspiration, perhaps, for those who don't have these opportunities or - more importantly - don't see that they DO.

Life is cruel. And yes, we get curveballs at the drop of a hat, sometimes devastating blows. But grounded in the foundation made up of these little moments, we get through them because we have built a basis of what matters most and we (those who recognize this as important) survive stronger than ever because there is that basis upon which to draw and upon which to fall if we should need to do so.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts; it isn't often that such intimate ponderings are shared, but I've come to draw upon yours as inspiration for mine, many times when I've needed the strength and fresh perspective of the "little" moments that grow into big meanings.

Hugs to you all.

Pesach said...

As it wriiten in the Proverbs "man plans and G-d decides" ... Somehow and somewhere there is a theological equation in all of this. That said, precious moments are sometimes hard to come by; you have to make a concerted effort to see its manifestation.

tanya (aka netchick) said...

Thanks for the reminder, Carmi! I'm trying to enjoy. Every. Single. Moment. these days. Life is indeed way too short.

My Dad died nearly two years ago, but I still talk to him all the time. I often find myself reflecting on the fact that I didn't allow for enough face time with him when he was still around.

But, I do know that he grounds me, even after he is now gone.

It's those moments that make life worth living, and the moments we miss the most when the closest to us are gone.

Laurie said...

Carmi...I get this post. As the mom of a soldier who has deployed to a war zone before for 15 months, I know the difference between serious worries and minor annoyances. Thankfully he returned to from that deployment whole and healthy. He was supposed to come home for good this month but instead he has been stoplossed and is only home for a few days before he is sent back to Iraq in the fall for another 12 months. I know how silly the small annoyances of life are to fret over when you look at the bigger picture, but I also think that sometimes sweating the small stuff can serve as a welcome distraction from the really serious worries. For right now though I will just enjoy the mild chaos that comes of having my three boisterous boys spending time together driving their old mom and dad crazy. In a couple of weeks he will be back on post in another state preparing to deploy, the middle one will be back at college soon, and the youngest will be busily engaged in his Junior year of high school. The house will be very quiet leaving me open to thinking too much, worrying too much. I will need some distractions. I will even take a few silly worries to keep my mind off of what I really fear.

Anonymous said...

As one who is estranged from immediate family, it's an intriguing thought to think about these connections. Would you rather have something you didn't want, or want something you didn't have?
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