There are moments that one forgets a second later, moments that evoke a smile or crease the brow in frustration, moments that alter one’s mood throughout the week before they flit away into the foggy realm of forgetting. Moments that define a relationship, turning someone from stranger to friend or lover to enemy. But once in a while there are moments that change everything.
These moments must be the big milestones, right? The universal ones like birth, death, graduation, a proposal, marriage, divorce, sickness. These are milestones that unite everyone in a shared experience.
While these are powerful occurrences, the small moments leading up and surrounding them can be even more important, even more memorable.
What made him kiss her the first time? How many casual conversations did they have before they shared their deepest, darkest secret?
What led up to that fight? What made him remember that moment with his son more than all the others? What last words did she say that made it impossible to forgive her?
Such moments can result in incredible enlightenment. Incredible pain. Incredible happiness. Or a once in a lifetime connection.
It’s true that humans are fallible. Horrendously so. Sometimes these moments can be so painful that one hopes to get high on alcohol, drugs, sex, risky behavior. Anything to escape.
But sometimes there are those moments that are unbelievably perfect, better than a scripted Hollywood scene with all of the lighting and background sound.
These are the moments – good and bad – that change people forever. Careers, partnerships, having or not having children, forgiveness, anger, being overcome by a situation or choosing to move past it. All of these occurrences can be broken into moment(s). And this has been the case since the beginning of the first human experience.
What is frightening is that people’s ability to experience these moments is changing. Television, technology, social media, the immediacy of the internet – all of these factors have benefitted society. But there is also a cost. People are less connected to the here and now. Or if they are present, they are less able to communicate effectively. We, as a culture, have become increasingly adept at participating in a moment without fully experiencing or connecting to it.
It seems we are in a world where nothing is shocking. People are desensitized to the point that they are no longer as caring towards each other. We are in danger of becoming automatons in a world that could not care less… as long as the right price tag is attached.
Said Henry David Thoreau, “You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”
Instead of tuning out, one needs to relearn how to experience. Feel the happiness, the pain, the grief, the hilarity. Whatever it is. Experience it. It may be difficult to claim every moment, but it’s far better to be an agent in one’s own life than to be a passive viewer.