Every once in a while, life concedes an elusive moment; it loosens its possessive grip on time, and lets you sink inextricably into the beauty of the now, with neither pull from the past, nor allure of the future. These are the moments of pure contented elation – extraordinary in their simplicity. These are moments that tattoo themselves to your soul so that by the time you have the wisdom to reflect back on your life, a significant part of you is a patchwork of these snippets in time. Pristine snapshots – mere glimmers in the long light of your life, but they are unforgettable, unshakeable, inextinguishable glimmers.
You will probably only get a handful of these transcendent moments in your life. Time will seem to stand still, and nothing but the authenticity of the moment you’re in will matter; it is the feeling of complete uninhibited, liberated happiness. It’s a visceral feeling – uncomplicated and never in need of validation or explanation. You know it when it hits you. There is no way to not know.
It’s usually something simple. It’s why people crave watching a sunset while sitting on a hill in the French countryside, with nothing but a loved one, a bottle of wine, some cheese and a good baguette. The wholesome minimalism of the moment, uncorrupted by life’s detritus and disentangled from every other snag or concern or craving – just contentment consolidated. It washes over you, and fills you up – you wish nothing more than to bottle it and keep it forever, stealing a small sip each night so you never forget what it means to be unequivocally fulfilled by your own existence. But somehow, you know that part of what makes it so special, is the fact that it’s limited. If it were a feeling you had always, it might lose its magic, or, more likely, it would become worn down and beleaguered by the endless avalanche of life’s inherent complications.
While part of us will always wish for the best moments to last forever, we know, ultimately, that they neither can nor should. We know that part of what reveals them as perfect, part of what imbues them with their unique magnificence, is their very juxtaposition to everything else: all the rest of the world’s imperfections. Only in proximity to the storm’s relentless turbulence, can we see most clearly, the serenity in the calm. Without the storm, we might confuse the calm for mundane; we might fail to recognize the exceptional in the ordinary, the sublime in the simple. So it is the very fleetingness of these moments that alerts us to their existence; the irony is that if they were always there, we might never recognize their presence.
What’s more, these moments can’t last forever because eventually, we have to reengage with some form of a responsible lifestyle. The sun will set; we’ll finish the wine and the bread, the wind will pick up and our foot will fall asleep from sitting in one position for too long – basically, the moment will pass – but that’s life, and it’s okay that way. We should not become so obsessed with the unforgettable moments that we fail to move forward and to forge our own way through the debris of each day. Likewise, amidst the endless responsibilities and burdens that seem to accumulate exponentially, there is always a time and place to pause, and become entrenched in the exactness of where you are – complete moment immersion.
Because the transcendent moments of contentment are infrequent and fleeting, we imagine them as speckles along the spectrum of life, which is otherwise an endless barrage of obligations, concerns, bills, birthdays, work, deadlines, commutes, arguments, celebrations, shame, lust, longing, achievement, failure, and all the complexities of human interaction and just general fermentation of self. But ultimately, life is not a stream of stress with the occasional hillside sunset; life is a series of moments – some of them are just extremely special, while others are more common, more complicated, or less glorious.
Every moment has its place, and every moment passes – there is both beauty and comfort in that truth. You can endure the difficult moments because you know they will not last forever. And you should soak up the perfect ones, for exactly the same reason.