An unexpected adventure found on a long night’s journey to observe the super moon although the intended destination was never reached, the unforgettable sensation of chills running down my arms when voices unite bringing the musical arrangements of my first Easter cantata to life, losing track of time when my newborn son opened his eyes and stared into mine as I spoke, the sweet contentment of my baby girl sitting on my lap while her favorite Disney princesses ice skate right by us, gazing into my wife’s eyes on our wedding day as I serenade her with a song written specially for the day . . .
Some of life’s greatest treasures are simply the moments we hold in our heart and reflect on, better known as memories. Memories are moments of time which made a mental impression upon us. At the time the impression is formed, we likely do not realize the images, emotions, sights, and sounds which are being recorded. Memories aren’t something you can force to happen. They form naturally and spontaneously with nearly no conscious effort on our part. Memories are formed when we learn to enjoy the moment.
Enjoying the moment can take many forms and does not necessarily mean a time of happiness, giddiness, and laughter. For the marching band students from my previous post, the director’s admonition to enjoy the moment certainly did not authorize them to be frivolous and silly during their performance. His words served as a reminder and encouragement to simply say, “You’ve prepared. You’ve put in the blood, sweat, and tears required to get you here. Now, relax, give it all your all and do what you know to do.” He was telling them to be present in this moment and experience it as it happens with joy, pleasure, and satisfaction.
To better understand this concept, it’s important to know the difference between happiness and joy. Though similar, the two emotions differ based on their source and where they originate. Happiness relies on external factors such as circumstances, events, and even other people. Happiness can be fleeting: here one moment, gone the next. Joy is lasting and is found internally. It resides in controlling what you can and letting go of what you can’t. Joy comes in knowing who you are and accepting who you are. Defined biblically, joy simply means a calm delight. This is the message the band director was trying to convey. Remain calm and delight in this moment and the memory will form itself.
Despite the moments listed above, some memories do not become enjoyable until we view them in the future as reflections of the past. To label those moments as bad memories is a disservice. I believe this is where the pleasure and satisfaction part of enjoying the moment applies. Even in times of unhappiness, pain, and sorrow, it’s possible to reside in a state of calm delight. No one enjoys times of loss and suffering, yet during those times some of our most treasured memories are formed. I was five years old when I lost my grandfather in South Carolina, yet no one will ever be able to steal the moment I crawled up on his hospital bed and kissed him on the cheek and said, “I love you, Papa,” for the final time although he was already gone. Twenty-seven years later I stood beside my mother in the emergency room as we now said goodbye to her dad, and he drew his final breath. Those moments were crushing and heart-breaking to live through but looking back I value each of those moments as both honored and sacred moments.
If I’m being honest, since I set out on this path a couple of weeks ago of examining what it means to enjoy the moment, I have encountered just as many moments I wished to run away from as I sought to enjoy. On many occasions I’ve neglected the notion of being present in the moment as I’ve longed for an escape. I will share more about that next time as I discuss why we don’t often enjoy the moment and what keeps us from doing so. In the meantime, I encourage you to take time to read this tale from three years ago of my family’s experience of attempting to enjoy the journey of going on vacation.