I have my own personal and portable DJ. Reed loves to play music for me as we drive from activity to activity. He plugs his iPod into the car’s reverse-USB port and carefully selects songs based on factors of the moment.
On a recent trip that was just the two of us — which meant he got to sit in the front seat — he chose songs from our past. One he got done fiddling with his iPod and the music began, he did something remarkable.
He reached out for my hand.
For the rest of the 15-minute trip, our fingers were as intertwined as our voices.
The next day, Tessa invited me to take the dog for a walk with her. “Come with me, Mama,” she said in the unguarded tone of voice I remember from her pre-teen days. And by “pre-teen” I mean “less hostile.”
We found the leash, clipped it on Dexter, and headed out the door. Before we even got around the corner, Tessa did something remarkable.
She reached out for my hand.
For the rest of the 15-minute stroll, our hands connected us and our stride synched us.
With awareness, one could have a perfect moment shackled in a dungeon sitting in one’s own excrement; without it, blessings galore cannot compensate.
I still believe that. Despite winning the parental jackpot, despite being blessed with amazing sisters who make me laugh and give good counsel, despite being healthy and sheltered and sharing a home with a loving husband and 2.2 kids (I can say that now that Dexter is here), despite having a passel of fabulous friends and despite having a relatively cushy life compared to 99% of the humans who have ever existed, recently I have had trouble finding perfect moments. Last month I couldn’t even deliver one, and I’m the goldarned host of this bloghop.
I had more than a little anxiety that my dry spell would not end in time for December’s Perfect Moment Monday. But late in the month I relaxed and began again to notice what I have instead of angsting over my troubles.
I am not a big fan of Christmas, at least not like I was as a child. I no longer share the religious sentiment, and I have come to detest the consumerism the holiday represents. The buildup that now begins at Halloween has made my children practically vibrate with expectations that can’t possibly be met. Their anxiety makes me feel unsettled and cranky.
I had vowed, after our extended family dinner, that our part of the family would not to join the others in attending the 10 pm Christmas Eve service at the church I grew up in. But after my children pleaded plaintively for two more hours with their cousins, I reconsidered.
We took up two pews, my parents and sisters and our children, plus my beloved aunt and uncle. Some details of the church experience remained the same as they were during my childhood: the poinsettias at the altar, the order of the service, the antsy-ness of the children — but this time I was the adult, the shusher rather than the shushee.
Some details were different: the pastor and the cantor are now younger than I am, I didn’t recognize any other congregants beyond our two pews, and the communion bread now looks a lot like pita pockets.
The songs were the familiar Christmas hymns I know by heart, even into the second and third verses. During O Come All Ye Faithful, I looked to my left over the heads of my family members and saw the message:
Peace | Joy | Love | Hope
I felt a perfect moment creeping up on me. The wave began to overtake me, an upwelling of emotion building in my chest and threatening to let flow tears of bliss. I remained in that state until the capper.
Always, the Christmas service’s final hymn, the one we sing as we darken the church and relight it candle by candle, is Silent Night. Mine is a family of singers. Remember this story about my dad? And this video featuring my sisters? My aunt, once a musical theater star, disc jockey and music teacher, has a crystal clear and pitch-perfect voice.
Behind me, around me, within me, our voices — 15 of them — intertwined with each other in exquisite resonance as the shadows gave way to light. I was enveloped by vibrations of love and joy emanating from my family members, three generations of us. Our voices rose in delight for the season, the joy of being together and the awareness that we were making this once-in-a-lifetime memory.
Which explains why it’s in my interest (and yours) to notice perfect moments.
Perfect Moment Monday is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between. On the last Monday of each month we engage in mindfulness about something that is right with our world. Everyone is welcome to join. To participate in Perfect Moment Monday:
Most days, as soon as the alarm goes off I pull on yoga pants (and shirt), wake the kids and get them ready for school. About the time they’re pledging their allegiance, I am setting up my laptop in my home office.
But once in awhile, I actually go to work and must begin the day the way I used to: I shower, pick something out of my closet that is on a hanger, and do my hair and makeup. I had one of these days in November, and instead of guiding my children through each step of their prep, I focused on mine.
Would my kids rise to the occasion?
I made sure Tessa and Reed were awake before I stepped into the shower. Would you believe that not once did they storm through the door and complain that one was breathing on the other? Would you believe that after I dried myself off and crept into the hallway to see what was going on in the kitchen, that I saw Tessa rinsing Reed’s cereal bowl and loading it into the dishwasher? That I saw Reed making a lunch for Tessa? That they were collaborating with each other rather than tormenting each other?
I was in shock. And I broke out into a huge smile.
Tessa and Reed had a soundtrack for the morning blaring from one or the other’s iPod, perched in the kitchen docking station an causing them to rock out. At the moment I peered down on them, “We Are Young” by fun. was playing. It’s a song we all love to sing together in the car, but in this scenario it held new meaning.
We are young! So let’s set the world on fire We can burn brighter Than the sun!
(Not the get-drunk-til-you-can’t-get-yourself-home meaning that the video portrays.)
Ladies and gentlemen, I saw with my own eyes that I am raising independent, cooperative and compassionate human beings. Who so totally rock.
Perfect Moment Monday is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between.
On the last Monday of each month we engage in mindfulness about something that is right with our world. Everyone is welcome to join.