A Series of Moments
From the time we are born until the time we die we are a living a series of moments. Like popcorn on a string placed haphazardly around the holiday tree, the distance between the moments and the branches they land on are as much about how fate strung our moments, how they have come to rest, and just plain old gravity.
When we trip, the likelihood of us hitting the ground depends on how close the next moment on the string is. Is that moment a catch? A catch by a thing or a person, or our own balance? Or is that next moment gravity? Splat, hitting the pavement.
Big and Small Moments
Some of us live for the big moments, the popcorn, the big juicy morsels. Always on the run, hopping from rock to rock never touching terra firma. Others of us live for all of it, the big stuff and the smaller stuff in between. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose.
Maya Angelou said,
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
Do You Hear What I Hear?
I like the greater risk of the small moments the best. I think that when we try to avoid the smaller quiet moments it is because we are afraid of losing control of something. Afraid to stop talking for fear of listening to others because of what they might say. Afraid of remembering because the story might not be the same. What if others are afraid of the same things, and that is why they go for the big stuff and steer clear of the small, the quiet, the intimate?
The still small quiet of night when all I can hear is the whistle of the train so far across the canyon and the snoring of the dog next to my pillow is when things get real, it is then that I have no control. This is when I start to replay my old tapes. If I decided to allow myself to be defined by the way that my mind portrays and plays back every morsel of my life, if I decide to be judged by life instead of laying quietly and watching my life things could be scary.
But I don’t, so it is not.
Risky Small Moments
Jumping from a plane is easy. You have no control over who packed the parachute or who is flying plane. So, jump or don’t jump. But, try laying alone in the dark for fifteen minutes. Just you, no distractions, and all of the many thoughts of your many years. You do not know which bit of the string of popcorn that has been your life will emerge in that time before sleep comes. You do not know what those memories will be or which hopes and fears of tomorrow will arise in your sleep to become your dreams.
Or your nightmares.
Be Brave, Listen
Oh no, because the bravest moments are not those moments when the only option is to accidentally live or to accidentally die. The bravest moments are those moments when you quietly face the sum total the irrepressible and indomitable power of your brain to tell you what you need to be told and for you to decide what you want to do with those messages.
How will you listen? Decode. How will you be defined? And by whom?
That is the big trip. Now walk. As your toe catches the crack in the sidewalk take a gulp of air as it passes you, feel the breeze. Then, reach out and see what moment comes next.
For Donna Kay, my brave friend, for popcorn and a movie in the dark. For Dave, who was snoring.