The moments that we miss
This morning I was reflecting on the moments that we miss. The funny thing is, it was a moment I DIDN’T miss that lead to this thought. For some reason I flashed back to a moment with Nayeli, who had decided that she was going to hang out with the grownups at the center that day. She’d been at the front desk waiting for the “Guestes” to show up, and now she was joining me to check out some food samples one of the reps had brought in.
It was such a cool moment. She loved making little videos with me as I was moving about the center. I think she had pretty much decided she was in charge of keeping me in line. Also, as our self-appointed grilled cheese expert, it was important that any new menu items met with her approval. This was serious stuff.
Her choice was interesting. There was always so much going on at Questers’ Way. At that moment, Nayeli could have been in Pebble Park playing with the other QWay Kids. She could have been helping her mom set up decorations for the weekend’s parties. She could have been watching videos with her brothers. There were so many other moments that she was missing.
I’m pretty sure that these thoughts didn’t concern Nayeli at all. She had chosen her moment, and she was all in on it. We had fun “taste testing”, and then off she went, and off I went to whatever moments we each had chosen next.
It was a good moment. We like those moments, don’t we?
Sometimes, it seems that those moments can be hard to come by. It feels like we’re grabbing at water. It’s like we’re playing Whack-a-Mole with life, trying to catch a connection that seems to pop back into the hole just before we can get there. We’re left scrambling frantically for something we can grab onto.
Have you ever had that feeling? Have you ever gotten so distracted by the moments you think you are missing that you can’t appreciate the one that’s right in front of you? I know I have.
The part of us that passes judgement on everything we do can get really loud in our head. It gets us wondering if there is something better we could be doing. We start thinking about those videos admonishing us about how our lives are passing us by while we stare at our cell phones. We start down the rabbit hole of all the time we’ve wasted, and all the choices we regret, and all the ways we need to be better, do better, blah blah blah, starting right now.
This doesn’t feel healthy.
Michael Singer, in “The Untethered Soul” had an interesting metaphor about moments: He talks about imagining that you are walking into a warehouse that is pitch black. This warehouse has an infinite series of shelves packed with an infinite amount of stuff on each one. Imagine walking into this massive warehouse with millions of miles of possible things to look at. Endless shelves, row after row stretching endlessly in every direction. And all you have is a flashlight.
You, and your little flashlight, have the ability to illuminate one tiny thing at any given time. That’s it. By design, it’s all any of us can ever do.
How do you feel about that? When you think about it this way, when it comes to the moments we’re missing, it’s pretty much all of them, isn’t it? There are an almost infinite amount of moments happening right now and all we have is this tiny little flashlight illuminating this tiny little speck of experience that almost no one else will ever know about.
What do we even do with that? Do we frantically try to whack as many moles as we can until we drop from exhaustion? Do we just give up and watch the present moment pass by and focus our attention on the past moments that we loved? Do we hope and wish that better moments will come to us? How do we respond to this perspective? Does this add even more pressure to our lives?
I’ve decided that this actually takes the pressure off. No matter what we do, no matter how awakened and well intentioned we are, we’re missing mostly everything. It is not something that is within our ability to control. Moments will be missed.
This realization lead to a question:
Are we better served thinking about all of the moments we’re missing, or should we bring our full attention to the only moment we have: the one that is right in front of us?
Seems like a pretty obvious choice, right?
Which lead to another question:
If we can only shine the light of our attention on one tiny moment, why not focus some energy on building a better flashlight?
That’s what I’m going to do. My flashlight now has multiple settings. I can make it super bright and focused, or pan out and illuminate a larger area in less detail. I keep the batteries fresh and powered up. I even have different lenses so that I can make the world a little more blue, or green, or red.
This moment, right now, is it. Everything else has either already happened and is now slowly collecting dust on one of those shelves, or hasn’t happened yet. So why not keep our attention focused where the light is shining?
If I’m taste-testing with Nayeli, then that’s what I should be doing. If I decide to yell at the TV while the Giants lose another game, then I’m going to go ahead and really get into that. If I’m writing a long, possibly interesting post for this blog, then that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to WRITE IT. I’m going to hold my flashlight in my teeth and type with both hands, banging away until I decide to shine my light somewhere else.
Watching Netflix? Then watch. Grieving a loss? Then grieve. Celebrating a win? Then celebrate. This is your moment. It’s your only moment.
Let’s let the moments we’ve missed be the fuel that empowers us to pick our next moments with clearer and clearer intention. The moments we miss can help us. They can help us remember to make conscious choices and then stay focused on what our flashlight is illuminating.
My dream for you today is that you find peace in the moments you have. May you have an amazing flashlight that lights up all of your moments in a way that brings you joy, or sadness, or whatever else that moment gifts to you. My dream is that you own your moments like Nayeli. That you go all in on the moment in front of you.
Thank you for sharing some of your moments with me as you’ve read this.
That actually leads to one last thought: Isn’t it interesting how much brighter a moment gets when we all shine our light on it together? Taste-testing with Nayeli still shines in my memory. Our combined flashlights really brought something special to an experience that would have otherwise been a little less illuminated.
Add the light of your attention to the light of your family and friends. Help make those moments a little brighter and clearer for all of you.
That’s it for today, now I’m off to shine my light on a cup of coffee.
May your flashlight shine brightly today :)