For every month I advance farther into my 40’s, I feel that my eyes do something a little funkier and weirder than the last. Seriously. Sometimes I can see billboards but not menus, and other days I can’t see my fingernails OR the house across the street.
I’m told with enough bifocal correction, reading glasses, different contacts and eye drops it will eventually even out…but for now I’m kind of mourning the good ‘ol days of just waking up and walking downstairs (without running into the door jam).
The one good thing that’s happened is the hindsight I’ve gained. It seems that it is often only by looking back that we can see how monumental–or meaningless–certain events truly were.
For instance…I can’t remember the last time I spoke with my grandfather. I would guess that we probably talked about the weather, my husband, our new house, his upcoming cruise…
And I would also guess that we said, “I love you,” as we hung up the phone because we normally did..
But I honestly don’t remember.
I had no idea that would be our last conversation.
I had no idea that he would head off on a trip where he would have severe heart issues. That he would need to be transferred off the ship and rushed by helicopter to a hospital. That he would have an emergency procedure he wouldn’t make it out of alive.
Looking back…I really wish I remembered what we had talked about because, in hindsight, that was a pretty monumental conversation.
On the other side of it though…I remember several things in my life that I thought, at the time, were huge. Things I believed I might not live through…things I thought would ruin me (or make me) forever. To be honest, many of those occurred in my teenage years when every aspect of a life is magnified by the lenses of hormones and the world seems to narrow its’ focus on minute aspects of individual lives making them explode into cataclysmic world-altering events. With hindsight I can look back on the majority of these things and smile, knowing they were normal little bumps in life. They weren’t nearly as monumental as they might have seemed.
Isn’t it funny how the gift of time let’s us see things with much more of a “lifetime” perspective than a momentary one? It’s like when you stand really close to a giant painting, and you see all these tiny individual brush marks that whirl and swirl together. It’s not until you back waaaaay up, give yourself some space and distance, that you can see which strokes make up the important parts and which are just another blade of grass in the field.
I certainly didn’t know that some of my “moments” were things I would look back on as being monumental:
—The three-minute conversation I had with someone…who later told me it was then they knew God was real.
—When I decided to take an anthropology class in college, not knowing the cute guy next to me would end up being my husband for at least 21 years.
–When I told my grandmother I’d bring her something special from my trip…not knowing she would pass away before I made it home.
Some things I can’t even remember…and I wish I could because I think I would have cherished them more, knowing how “big” those moments really were:
–The last time my son asked me to sing him to sleep…
–The last time I heard my grandmother laugh…
–The last time my brother and I had both our parents at home for a family dinner…
–The last time my daughter asked me to brush her hair…
Some moments become monuments and take us by surprise, and others have us frantically searching our memories for them because their very absence becomes a monument itself.
I’ll tell you the interesting thing all this rambling has led me to….and that’s simply this:
Most of the things that seemed so bad and scary and awful…they don’t look as bad when you’re standing in the here-and-now looking back at them. Same goes for the things that were so “rock-your-world-this-is-amazing!” (said with a teenage soprano voice). The big highs and the big lows, for the most part, smooth out when seen through the back window of your big ‘ol traveling car years down the road.
It’s the little things. The normal every-day almost mundane moments that rise up like big mountains in your rear-view mirror. Those are the ones I wish I could recapture. Those are the ones I wish I had really cherished and enjoyed thoroughly. Those are the ones I never realized would mean so much to me this many years down the road.
So…I’ll finish with a cliché. We’ve got to cherish the moments. Stop and breathe in deeply the smell of our kid’s tousled hair because we know that one day he will rest his chin on our head. Ask God to help us live-in and soak-up the ordinary moments, because those are a lot of the ones we’ll look back on one day as monumental. Even if we’re looking back with screwy bifocal contacts.