Not long ago I sat in my car, parked in a driveway in Southbury waiting to do an inspection. The woman was 15 minutes late to meet me and would be 15 minutes more. The familiar clench of anxiety twisted in my stomach as I knew it was near impossible for me to make it back in time to pick up my daughter.
Having whipped up plan B and plan C, I sat back in my car, opened the windows and took notice of what a beautiful autumn day it was. I made a promise to myself to carry a book from this moment forward for times like these, as sitting idle feels uncomfortable. I began to make lists of things to do, ideas to write about and then moved on to organize my briefcase.
Through the tall trees and proceeding up an endless driveway, I saw a young mother with a baby in a stroller, a toddler by the hand, a kindergartner bouncing ahead and a golden retriever trotting contentedly at her side. Instant melancholy flashbacks overwhelmed me of my own offspring and the days gone by. I missed those years. I really loved that time of our lives. It was so very simple; so uncomplicated. I wish I could go back from this hectic, challenging time of too busy schedules, too heavy problems, so many unknowns.
For another five minutes, the flashback family trudged up the long hill to their home and I could hear the chatter and squeals from the little ones. The mother held tight to the dog’s leash as it strained in the direction of a squirrel, readjusted to push the stroller one-handed and raised her elbow to fit the kindergartners backpack under her arm; the juggling act all too familiar. I remembered being right there, wishing I had two more hands; longing for the day when they all walked independently. Had I known at the time about the kind of juggling I would be doing ten years later, perhaps I would have realized the beauty of those moments.
I remembered the other side of those times; feeling like there was no ‘me’ in the picture; searching for a few minutes here or there of ‘alone’ time. I wish I knew then how quickly that would all be gone. Fleeting moments.
It occurred to me that I have spent most of my life looking forward, and now here I sat looking back. More importantly, there was something very real between sweet memories and hopeful futures; something called now. Memories are beautiful and plans important, but the only tangible part of life is now, this moment. This hectic time of teenagers and middle-schoolers would, too, be gone in a flash. I am guaranteed that 10 years from now I will miss this running around and the energy of my household. Living in what was or what might be allows a robbery of what is.
There are people in this now that I am not connecting with as I scurry quickly along to what comes next. Now has tastes and smells and feelings that I miss as I rush on to the next moment. I sat quietly in this state of revelation, teaching myself to enjoy the peace of a delayed schedule and marveled at the leaves.
This morning, God sent yet another reminder. Being up everyday before I would like and before the sun, I slipped into my office to grab my camera. Listening to the coffee pot gurgle and drip, I step out into the cold morning to greet the sun.
“What are your doing?” my teenager mumbles as if I am a mystery.
“Catching a moment.” I answered, slipping back in for my coffee.
I look at the image on my camera, realizing that it is still a little dark and decide to return in a moment when the sun is a smidge brighter. Relishing my first hot sip of coffee, I return to my place on the steps only to find the stark reminder that “in a moment” isn’t the same as being “in the” moment.
A wise man once said “life is what happens while we are busy making plans.”