For the most part, my early childhood was a pleasant haze, with certain memories bubbling to the surface with varying degrees of clarity. One memory stands out. It may seem innocuous to some but it was a moment of mine that I can only describe as deliberate.
I was six and I was walking home on my own. When I was six, a kid could still do that. I went a lot of places alone, and while on my way I’d hum or sing to myself, which is a habit I’ve hung onto. I learned to whistle while walking home from kindergarten, just by trying it out on my own, by myself in kind of reverie.
I’d also do a lot of thinking.
But back to the moment. It was twilight and, as I mentioned, I was walking home. And thinking. And it suddenly came out of nowhere, like a message beaming from the Great Beyond.
It occurred to me that I was in a moment. It wasn’t an important moment in any external way. I wasn’t experiencing my first kiss, or winning an award, or scoring my first goal in soccer. But it was an internal moment— a spiritual moment, of a sort.
I realized that I was in a moment that would never come again. I was moving through a temporal river, and time was moving too, all around me. Somehow, standing there on a sidewalk at twilight, alone, it occurred to me that I needed to celebrate that moment before it passed.
So, I closed my eyes. I leapt in the air.
My shoes hung suspended over the sun-warmed sidewalk, my arms splayed out, my eyes tightly shut. And I knew I was marking that moment, determined in my mind to remember it for all time, for as long as I lived in the only way my six-year old mind knew how. It was my mine.
As my shoes hit the sidewalk, the moment was gone. The moments that followed it seep back into the gauzy haze of days gone by.
Part of being human means knowing that you’re in time, and that things are changing all the time. But when the realization hits you when you’re a kid, it does so terribly, and wonderfully.
It can be awe-inspiring and in some cases frightening. But the reward is knowing that the celebration of moments is within one’s control, even if the moment to follow is not necessarily guaranteed.
I consider that moment, and the raw knowledge of it, to be a gift. It stands alone in my history, singular and untouched. And it reminds me, from time to time, that being present, and that recognizing the passage of time as it’s happening, can reveal the subtle beauty of being alive that only that kind of awareness affords.