Maybe it's because I just had a kid that I feel that life is passing me by quickly.
Even though the days can drag on and on, in a seemingly never-ending drudgery, when I stop to think about it, I can say with certainty that my life really has gone by in the blink of an eye.
I am that person who likes sticking to my plans and schedules, and spontaneity is not usually in my vocabulary. Veering off track can give me a kind of anxiety that I am not being productive enough or I am running away from my responsibilities. Ironically, I married someone who places particular value on spontaneous things and has a general sense of being very present minded.
And that has taught me a lot about life.
While it's true that plans and schedules are wonderful things, I've found that the common-place, seemingly unplanned moments are ones that become far too precious in retrospect. They become memories that I keep replaying again and again in my mind, hoping that the way they taste and feel and smell leave me with such a indelible impression that I can never forget, because I really did take them for granted at the time.
Here at my wedding, I was so flustered by the fact that my family was almost an hour late to pictures. My mom was running on zero sleep and had gotten rear-ended at Dollar General picking up some last minute detail and we were short one bouquet and I was about ready to lose my mind in frustration. Little did I know that this would be the last photograph taken of my parents and I. I wish I had taken one extra second to appreciate how much I loved them, right then and there in that moment, but just like that it was gone.
In my engagement photos, Garrett and I had been up far too late the night before. He was visiting me at school in Ohio and we had gone out to dinner the night before and gotten into a huge yelling argument about the papal wealth and the corruption of the church (I wish I was kidding, this is my life though). We were so tired the next day and during the picture taking I was hungry and thinking about all the papers I had coming up and where my next meal was coming from. I wish I had pulled my head out of the clouds and given myself to my fiancé in that moment, because Garrett would never be my fiancé again.
In the fall, two years ago, we decided to take a trip up to Flagstaff and walk around and explore and be adventurous. We took hikes and got coffee and shopped and saw a horror movie and our car died in the parking lot. We blew up an air mattress in the back seat of our car and spent the whole night shivering in misery and hoping we wouldn't get a ticket for bumming it illegally in a parking lot. On the way back home, we stopped by Sedona and I almost got us killed because I tried to pass a semi truck on the most treacherous highway. We stopped and got a banana split, which we almost didn't get. I'm so glad we did, because as we sat there with our two spoons, devouring that delicious indulgent thing, I realize now that this was one of the carefree, youthful memories of our marriage.
In the heat of July in Arizona, we decided to play around with our new camera. It was probably 120 degrees and we couldn't agree on a park to go to or a pose to strike once we got there. We couldn't decide on what to get for dinner and I was stressed about looking stupid in the park posing and hence Garrett was stressed too. I wish I had taken in that very last summer of ours as a married couple, without kids, without a real worry in the world.
Since having a kid, we have stopped several times to take a photograph outside. I'm always hesitant to share them because I don't look pretty enough or thin enough and the lighting is off and it's not what I had envisioned. But I look back now and see that already my son has doubled in size and he was only so tiny for so long, and this tininess will never come back.
Even today, we had notes to write and to-do lists and chores to do, but we decided to stop what we were doing, be spontaneous, and give our little human a bath, and snap photos and not care about the tasks waiting for us a half hour later.
I'm not saying that I want to give up being punctual and driven and organized, because I don't. But I sure as hell want to be more mindful than ever of these beautiful, unrepeatable moments that seem so trivial, so unbelievably ordinary as they happen.
Moments like this aren't supposed to be only a nostalgic reflection in the years ahead, or distractions from the main business of life. For, as a well known quote puts it: