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What are your moments?

What are your moments?

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.
The richness of life lies in memories we have forgotten”
― Cesare Pavese, The Burning Brand: Diaries, 1935-1950

Remember that time… It’s my favorite line from spending a few months with a good friend driving to small communities every day, and it’s a line I often use when I am talking with old friends about days gone by. Remember that time you felt so happy? Remember that time your feelings were hurt? Remember that time you felt so loved? Pavese was correct, while days might escape us, moments do not, and as wonderful as the moments we remember are, imagine how rich the memories we’ve forgotten might have been.

Life is full of moments. I’ve saved calendar books and letters from several family members because I value the moments represented. For instance, my grandpa’s datebook where he wrote the weather for each day (he farmed) had a special entry on January 27, 1973, that had nothing to do with the weather. “1973, 1/27, At long last a Peace Treaty has been signed, thus ending our part of the Vietnam War after __ years active participation and over 46,000 killed. Today also ended the military Draft. The high today 42°.”  I imagine that moment was for him like many have been for those who have seen wars begin and finally end. Moments. Not everyone will have the date written in a book, but most will remember the moment and how it made them feel.

While the end of a war is a wonderful moment to hold in your memory, there are other moments. The moment you discover you’ve lost someone you love, the moment you hear the metal of the cars colliding, or the moment the voice on the other end of the phone says, “I have some news.” Moments are memorable not because of the day, but because whatever has happened is so meaningful, and chances are even my mentioning it might bring back memories of moments pushed away. Good or bad, it is moments that make our lives so meaningful.

Moments shape us.

  • I don’t remember the date, but I remember the moment I found a deer stuck in a fence and called for someone to help it.
  • I don’t remember the date, but I remember the moment I found out I would be a mother.
  • I don’t remember the exact date without double-checking the calendar, but I remember the moment we received the phone call that my father-in-law had died of a heart attack.
  • I don’t remember the date, but I remember the moment I heard a voicemail from one of my sons telling me he had aced a major exam.
  • I don’t remember the date, but I remember the moment someone told me they admired my work.

I don’t have to remember the exact times or days on the calendar, but the moments are priceless and etched in my memory to shape who I am continuing to become. What about your moments?

I love what Rose Kennedy said, that life isn’t a matter of milestones, but of moments. Do you measure your worth by the milestones you’ve achieved? The milestone of a child taking his first steps is great, but it is the feelings in the moment that stay with us. This might be a good time to step back and just treasure the moments. Allow yourself to bask in the memory of the moments and see yourself in light of them. Some will make you feel sadness, some will make you swell with pride, some will humble you, and some will give you feelings of achievement. All of them, though, are part of who you are and who you are becoming — because until the day we die, we are continuing to grow.

In looking for science to back up my belief that moments matter, I discovered there isn’t a lot out there. I did, however, happen upon the story of Stanton Elementary School in Washington, D.C. The school’s story is available in many places on the internet, but I’ll briefly tell you that they intentionally created moments, beginning with visits to the homes of the students before the new year began, and the changes in the school based on the one moment were monumental. Their choice is a powerful reminder of the difference intentional moments can make in a person’s life, a school’s life, a company’s life.

  • Ceate a welcoming moment for your employees or a moment in the spotlight that lets them know you’ve noticed their efforts.
  • Create a moment of reflection in your family. Perhaps you each write down and then share aloud what others have said or done that has been meaningful to you. What a moment to feel celebrated for something small or large that has gone unspoken.
  • Create a moment of joy for yourself as you step away and find a little quiet. (Parents of young children know a simple moment by themselves in the bathroom is a treasure.)

Life happens. Moments happen. We come away richer for what the moments offer us. May you find a way this week to notice and possibly create moments. It’s not the milestone of getting the raise — it’s the moment of feeling validated for your efforts. It’s not the date the holiday falls on the calendar — it’s the moment of feeling you’ve given or received love reflective of the season of joy. It’s about the moments. Notice yours. Life’s richness will be in those memories, and some might one day be forgotten.

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