In my younger days, I used to poke fun of my aunt who wanted pictures of everything. She would take tons of pictures, always. In my infinite wisdom, I would laugh and tell myself that if I couldn’t remember it then it wasn’t worth remembering.
I knew I was fooling myself for a variety of reasons. In part, because I didn’t like to look at pictures of me because I wasn’t happy with my appearance and also because I was never present. I was always waiting for the next thing or thinking of what could be better. I think the only time I was present was when I would watch a movie, and even then, I could be easily distracted by future plans.
My thoughts consumed me. What I could have done better? Where could I improve? How I could be better? It had helped me tremendously in many ways, but it has also hurt me. This is something with which I still struggle.
I talk a lot about being happy but never satisfied. I could write a book on not being satisfied. But happiness – that elusive gem – I struggled with it. I know it’s fleeting. I know that it is like the tide and, as such, there is ebb and flow to life.
I am working on it. I have recently come to find myself wanting to take pictures of times with my son, friends and loved ones. Not for any other reason but to remember the moment.
I just got my son’s kindergarten pictures. When I picked him up outside school, he yelled to his teacher that he was going to me. He ran up and said, “Dad, I have to show you something!” He whipped out his pictures filled with pride. He was very impressed by them.
I want to keep that picture to not only look at him but to always remember that moment.
I have been contemplating moments a lot lately. I remember this one moment of coincidence when I had left a previous job and I ran into someone unexpectedly who was a client from that job. We were excited to see each other and have been close since. Is it coincidence or fate? I don’t know.
I also have been thinking of my grandparents – all four – and each one reminds me of a distinct memory.
My mom’s mom makes me think of pancakes. I think of sleepovers at her house and how I would always have pancakes in the morning. I think of the smell of the butter on the frying pan and how she was always quick to give me a hug.
My mom’s dad reminds me of popsicles. The twin pops. They were red, orange or grape. We would sit on the couch watching golf or I would be outside playing the pool and he would be in his chair, eating popsicles together.
My dad’s mom reminds me of Christmas. To me, she is Christmas. From Halloween night until Thanksgiving Day, she decorates with painstaking detail. She creates an indoor wonderland. It was – and still is – an amazing sight to behold.
My dad’s dad reminds me of tuna fish. He worked for General Motors for as long as I could remember. He would get up at 3:30 every morning and pack his lunch. I remember getting told that I needed to get at least two sandwiches out of a can, if not more.
All of those memories are very important to me for different reasons. I often think what memories, if any, I will and do create for others. What I will impress upon them?
It’s all temporary. It’s all ephemeral. Every moment we experience is gone. We don’t know what will be the last one, but we always anticipate it happening much later. We never know that last hug, that last goodbye or our last words to someone.
Live in the moments. Appreciate them. The moments are what make all of this. Be sillier than you should. Love like you will never be hurt. And live. Just live. Don’t hold grudges or linger on hate. Don’t mimic life. Don’t just go through the motions. You need to make it happen. Create memories and remember them. They are part of who you and why you are. They are both your history and your future.
You will never remember the days, just the moments.