Yesterday I drove through the small, beautiful town of Ashland. The sky was blue and the white clouds hung over the mountains ringing the valley. It was one of those near perfect moments and I wanted to sear it into my memory and make it last.
I drove by a little park where I used to take my son when he was very little; I could still see him running in his little blue sweater to the tall slides, armed outstretched, ready to climb the ladder and soar down to the earth below. I felt as if that memory was overlaid on the current moment and I had a thought.
I realized that because I had been so present to those moments of watching my son run and play in that park, because the memories were so deeply embedded in my cellular memory with each sense engaged – smell, sights, sounds – I could call them back up and live them again simply by touching back to that time in my mind. I realized again that this is the way to make beautiful moments last: take them in through every sense and embed them into the cells of memory.
There is a beautiful song in the new movie version of Beauty and the Beast and one line of the song asks a simple, poignant question: “How does a moment last forever?”
The song answers itself: “It is love we must hold on to, never easy but we try.”
As I think about the most beautiful moments of my life, they are all washed over by that intangible element – love. Love of people or love of a natural setting. Love of the feeling that comes with having unscheduled time, adventures in places I’ve never visited before, or unexpected surprises. Love is the glue.
At this time of year, one thing I treasure is the moments when the flowers pop up in our yard. The tulips are my favorite with their bold, bright petals. The bulbs have been around for some time and produce flowers that seem unreal, huge, magical. I bring them inside and make arrangements that last for a week, and the memory of the tulips can last all year for me – through hot summers, falling leaves of autumn, and the barren cold of winter.
The ephemeral tulip reminds me, as a visual memory seared into my mind, that things we love can last forever – inside of us, in places untouched by outside influences, places we can control by visiting them and inviting them to life again and again.
I am at a time in my life when the reality of time passing is clearer than ever. Children are growing faster than I can believe. But one thing I am growing increasingly aware of is the truth that if we deeply live the present moment, it is enough. When we take in every moment through all of our senses, truly present and paying attention, recording the details inside of our minds and imprinting them on our cells, those moments can come alive for us again whenever we choose to pull them out.
Moments can indeed last forever, if we invite them to do so. Like the tulips of spring: bold, beautiful, and magical.