I’m feeling a little angry. I realize it’s for a silly reason…but if I’m being truthful (and you know I must), I’m frankly irritated. I had the TV on while I was working and an ad caught my eye. It was one of those commercials that say things like, “Moments last forever.” There are lots of different versions of this thing–usually for cameras or photo-sites. Like this one HERE.
Now listen. It’s a lovely idea to think you can look back on a picture and have that time or moment back again….but the truth? You can’t.That’s the thing with time and living and breathing….it means that moments pass and don’t come back. Certainly great new moments come to us, and there are amazing moments coming in the future. But…the ones that have already happened? Well, they’re gone. Like….forever gone. I hate to sound like the president of the Debbie Downer Club, but that’s just the truth. (Don’t run away angry at me….there’s a good-ish point to this…promise!)
Now let me be clear: I am very much a fan of photographs and mementos. I realize that they help us remember things, and may even help us recall details we might have forgotten. Many times when I’m at my mom’s house I stop and look at the picture she has of my beautiful grandmother; I remember different things she said, how she made me feel like the most special person in this world, and how she loved frozen grapes. I look at that photo because I want to remember her. I want to remember her…so that I won’t forget her. I have such sweet memories of the 16 years I had with her, but I don’t have those moments anymore.
Even though I have this huge awareness of how irretrievable life’s moments are…I still take a ridiculous amount of pictures. I so so so so so badly want to capture some of the beautiful things around me before they slide out of my grasp. I’m very guilty of being trapped by a framed photograph I’m supposed to be dusting. I’ll find that several minutes of non-cleaning have occurred as I’ve been staring at the precious six-year-old face of my now 16-year-old man-child trying to remember what he was doing the day I took the picture and how his wiry little warm body felt when I could tuck him into my arms and rest my chin on his head.
Or maybe a friend of mine sends me a picture of us in high school with purple paint all over our faces because banner painting had turned into paint-wars and I remember how we were invincible and happy, and that our biggest worry was beating the juniors and winning the Homecoming Spirit Week.
Sometimes that stupid Timehop App can derail my entire morning when it shows me my three little kids with pure joy on their face jumping in a fountain and not caring about anything else in the world. Or my husband’s grandmother snuggling her first great-grandchild. Or even our first dog, Bo, who was really our first child.
I see these things, I remember these things, I savor these memories, and sometimes, I hurt a little because that’s all they are….memories. That’s where my bit of anger/sadness comes in: the commercials don’t have it right. Just because you remember it, doesn’t mean you have it back.
As I continue to browse through the 11 scrapbooks I now have piled up on the floor around me (because I’ve given up all pretense of cleaning at this point) I notice something else. Some of the pictures don’t bring back the best feeling at all.
My 7th grade class picture where I’m standing next to the girl who gave me my first taste of what a “mean-girl” really was. A portrait of my grandmother at my cousin’s wedding when she was so riddled with cancer and in so much pain she couldn’t stand up on her own. That picture of me with my colicky son. The bags under my eyes remind me of how miserable that time in my life was…how much I wanted him to hurry and get past it. When I see the picture of my tiny newly-born premature son, I remember how scared and awful I felt at that exact moment and am so glad I don’t ever have to relive those few minutes. Even now I don’t feel bad for wishing that time away–it was really hard! There are other frozen captured moments where, despite the faces smiling for the camera, I know that the life that was happening in the background was really rocky and awful at that moment.
I see these things, I remember these things, and I feel relief that I never have to relive them again. I am thankful that those moments do not last forever. Sure, it’s nice to realize that we made it past those times and survived (maybe even thrived sometimes), but in reality, I’m just glad they’re past.
During my self-analyzation session on the floor (since the house obviously won’t get clean this week at all) I realized something else. In the areas where things are sweet in my life right now, reminders of the “old moments” don’t make me sad. In fact I might feel that sense of relief again (for instance: my kids can go potty all by themselves these days so when I see a picture of them as toddlers in diapers I think “thank heavens we’re done with that!”).
But, in the currently hard areas of my life, when I see an “old moment” I’m so sad that I’m no longer living life in that time (for instance: when I see a picture of my kids covered in red and blue Superman Ice Cream I think about how I would give anything to go back to when an ice cream cone could make my child’s hurts and troubles go completely away).
So maybe it’s just a perspective thing. Or a hormonal thing. Or a lack-of-sleep thing. Or whatever. But there are definitely some things that, if I think too hard about, I’m really sad are over. I’m grateful to have memories, but I’m sad that’s all I have. Does that make any kind of weird convoluted sense? That’s where I feel a little ticked off at the camera-commercial-propaganda that says those sweet moments can last forever. Liars.
On the other hand, there are also those moments that I’m really happy are over. I don’t want to experience them again. In these instances the camera commercial people are still liars, but I’m not quite so peeved.
I guess the takeaway from my non-cleaning therapy session is this: nothing lasts forever. Yeah, I know it’s been said a few times before, but this is my personal version.
The good sweet perfect heart-filling moments in your life? They will pass. Savor them while they’re happening. Stop everything and just BE PRESENT. One day they will be nothing more than a picture that pops up on your phone and fills your eyes with memories that leak down your cheeks.
The hard wrenching heart-ripping moments in your life? They will pass too. Take strength and courage from that fact. One day, perhaps far in the future, you will remember them and be able to thank God that they are done and in the past.
I suppose the last lesson is to stop watching commercials. Apparently you can’t believe everything you see on TV. Everything you read on the internet, however, is totally true.