How many “forever moments” have you had recently? The term was used in a recent article by syndicated columnist Debra-Lynn B. Hook. She explained one such moment that occurred while she and her son were on a bike ride:
Instead of racing along the trail in a hurry, always rushing to see what’s around the bend, we decided to open our senses and our hearts to each curve along the path.
“I see shadows on the trail from the sun.”
“I hear the sound of a lawn mower.”
“I smell the crispness of the air.”
“I see a turtle!”
We saw nuances and details that we typically overlook when we are thinking about what’s for lunch or when boys’ soccer practice will start up again. We noticed that the leaves on the same tree appeared to be different shades of green because of the slant of the sun. We distinguished between the call of doves, crows and what I call tweety birds. We experienced and recognized the wind and the sun in our faces. We felt peace.
The constant, the mainstay, in these moments is what we feel inside. So far, when my son and I have stopped to be where we are, we have reported to each other feelings of safety, happiness and peace, which makes me wonder why we, why all of us in our family, why all of us everywhere, don’t allow ourselves these moments all the time.
This is a perfect example of delighting in the little things. In my book, I talk at length about how taking the time to slow down once in a while to just “be” is one of the best ways to fight stress — and Adultitis! It’s not difficult (quite easy, in fact), but it does require a certain self-awareness that can be elusive for grown-ups. You actually have to catch yourself complaining about the weather, or worrying about the Middle East crisis, or cursing your pig-headed boss. It’s easy to get caught up in the past, the future, and things we can’t control. But as Hook so truthfully states, “When I am experiencing what is before me, when I am not bemoaning the past or worrying about the future, I am fully experiencing life.”
Fully experiencing life. That’s how kids live every day.
A few days ago, Kim and I were walking along one of the lake paths on campus. Instead of worrying about the future or wishing that our bank account wasn’t so adept at imitating the Sahara desert, we decided to spend our walk thinking about all of the experiences we’ve been blessed with over the past year.
“A year ago at this time, we had never seen the stunning skyline of Seattle from atop the Space Needle,” I started. “We had never walked barefoot along the Gulf of Mexico’s sandy shoreline. We had never climbed San Francisco’s impossibly steep streets in a rickety old cable car.”
We experienced a forever moment by recounting all of the forever moments we had collected over the past year, many due in large part to our expanded speaking schedule. We were grateful that we took the time to experience those things, even though it would have been easy to say, “This is a business trip. We need to be focused on working. We’ll come back another time for fun.” As we walked, our pace quickened. Our hearts lifted. And we felt more at peace in the present and more excited about the future. We resolved to create even more forever moments in the next year.
Next time you’re overly stressed-out, just stop. Just for a minute. Take a deep breath and start using all of your senses. What do you see? Hear? Smell? Feel? Give yourself a chance to really live.
Give yourself a forever moment.