Moments.

It’s an early evening in late April in Los Angeles. I’ve been running in La Cienega Park, around and around that dusty dirt track, spurred on by pop music pulsating through my ear buds and the excitement of a little league baseball game nearby. The sounds that echo through the spring evening – the crack of the bat smacking the baseball and launching it into the outfield, children’s voices cheering, parents clapping – give me an extra spark of energy to keep going, to keep running, to keep pushing my body forward.

FullSizeRender

I finish my last lap and leave the track. Tired and sweaty, I run across Olympic Boulevard and turn down Alfred Street, slowing to a jog and then to a fast walk as I enter one of my favorite enclaves in this historic South Carthay neighborhood. iTunes skips to the next song – The Lady is a Tramp – and suddenly everything slows down. As Sinatra croons into my ear buds, I take in the soft blue watercolor sky melting into pale yellow, the amber rays of the waning sun casting their golden glow across the tiled rooftops of stately Spanish style homes, the statuesque palms, the immaculate gardens carefully landscaped with delicately blooming roses and cactus flowers. I feel my steps getting easier, almost as though I’m gliding down the sidewalk, and the air rises in my chest and catches somewhere near the back of my throat in a sharp tingle. Water springs to my eyes and though I don’t cry, I am overwhelmed with emotion as I realize that everything in this moment is perfect. It’s as though I’ve been transported back to a Los Angeles of 60 or 70 years ago, frozen in time, nestled away on this perfect street, at the perfect time of day, with the perfect song creating my soundtrack.

I want to hold on to this moment – and how I feel in it – forever, but even as I’m aware of it, I know it’s almost gone. I think about my Dad. There’s a word he would have used to describe this type of evening: halcyon. It means peaceful, tranquil, carefree. In this one moment, I am all of those things. And I’m also grateful: grateful for the memory of a word that comes to me like magic at a moment when time seems to stand still.

FullSizeRender[1]

And just like that, traffic starts buzzing down the street, the sky grows darker as early evening inches toward night, and the moment is gone. And I head home.

For most of my life, I’ve been moving too fast to notice moments like these. Always in a hurry to get to the next big thing. Ever looking forward to the next exciting date on my calendar, the next time I’d get on a plane to travel somewhere new, the next creative project on the horizon, the next vacation or holiday. Ever looking forward as I skipped over all the “boring” day-to-day moments in the process.

And then when my life started to unravel and people I loved started getting sick and dying, all I wanted was to be on the other side of it. I wanted so badly for things to be the way they used to be, to feel “normal” again, that I threw myself at life as hard as I could. I pushed myself to “get through it” by working hard and setting ambitious goals. My intentions were good – realizing how short and precious life was, I was driven by an internal fire to make the most of it – but my efforts were futile. I learned the hard way that life unfolds as it will, despite my stubborn refusal to accept what it had in store for me, and despite all of my best laid plans.

FullSizeRender[2]

I’m a control freak by nature, and learning to let go has been difficult for me. But little by little, I’m getting there. I’ve started paying closer attention to the here and now, and I’ve become more comfortable living there. And I’ve started realizing the truth in these words from Julia Cameron’s beautiful book “The Artist’s Way:”

It may be different for others, but pain is what it took to teach me to pay attention. In times of pain, when the future is too terrifying to contemplate and the past too painful to remember, I have learned to pay attention to right now. The precise moment I was in was always the only safe place for me. Each moment, taken alone, was always bearable. In the exact now, we are all, always, all right.

I am no longer in a place where the future is too terrifying to contemplate, and the past, while painful, is getting easier for me to remember. Yet it is still the present moment, most of the time, where I feel most OK. There’s a freedom that comes from not trying so hard, from not pushing so desperately to make my life conform to some idea of what I thought it was supposed to be, and instead, to let it be what it is. I still crave adventure and travel to far-flung locales. I still aim my arrow toward the challenge of tackling the loftiest goals. I still want the big moments in life, with all of their excitement and (sometimes) heartbreak. But in between all of those things, there are many, many smaller things: the small moments that make up a day, and that make up a life. Moments like catching the perfect sunset at the perfect time of day in the perfect place to witness it.

Those little moments are worth holding on to. Those little moments – for the moment – are where my happiness resides.

Until next time, friends.

FullSizeRender[3]

 

121 thoughts on “Moments.

  1. Oh, Sarah. Thank you for this lovely reflection on Los Angeles – however fleeting the moment, you have described the LA that lives in my memory. I bow to our beloved City of Angels and those perfect moments that guide you to your own angels.

    Good work, Ms. Kelly.

    Melanie

  2. thank you for this post. It served as a reminder of my own “perfect” and not-so-perfect days long (longer than I care to admit) ago days in other places and lifetimes. I’ve been beautifully reminded to cherish those moments, however brief, and hold on to them. Thanks, again. -Steve-

  3. Tonight I was thinking “I had pretty much work to do and did nothing today, so much wasted hours.” But reading your post helped me to realise I did lots of important things today like dreaming, watching a beautiful light and a rainbow in a park, reading a few pages of my book, having a glass of champagne with loved ones. No wasted time at all. Thank you.

  4. Love this! Good reminder to cherish all moments of life, but most importantly the small ones because those are the best. 🙂

  5. Beautiful shots living in LA must be nice that’s where my current lifestyle might take me idk though I love the city but I would need a lil bit of the country on the side

  6. Great work! Where your mind goes, your attention goes. Where your attention goes, your energy goes. Where your energy goes, your power goes. Where your power goes, you go.

    It is important to have self control for it is the greatest power of all. When you can use your power to truly live in each moment then you can truly love each moment. Amen!

  7. Reblogged this on Caz, In Real Life and commented:
    I’m putting this here, as a reminder to myself. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    Note to Caz: Read this when overwhelmed with life.

  8. Wonderful post, Sarah! Those who have passed before us place these moments in our paths…and how fortunate we are when we open ourselves to the ability to embrace them.

    Jim

  9. Sometimes in life we miss what is exactly in front of us in search of something bigger, our greed for the next big thing as you say never ends, it is important to enjoy the moment and take life as it comes. I completely resonate with your line of thoughts. Great article!!! 🙂

  10. Beautiful post, profound and true. I’m going to go lace up my sneakers and go out to seek one of those halcyon moments now. Best wishes for your writing, and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  11. Reblogged this on Tana Daily Telegraph and commented:
    ” I think about my Dad. There’s a word he would have used to describe this type of evening: halcyon. It means peaceful, tranquil, carefree. In this one moment, I am all of those things…” – original author. It’s indeed worthwhile to live one day at a time. Personally, I’ve come to realise that at times living life on the fast lane isn’t as thrilling as we’re apt to believe, especially after college. Living the moment is all it takes in order to appreciate the words of wisdom that dad and mum would occasionally throw down our way. Thanks for sharing your innermost experience and challenges in the manner you did. You really touched my heart.

  12. Beautiful post! It is so important to remember how quickly things can change. I love your authentic account of how you developed a new perspective and appreciation for the present.

  13. This was a beautiful post and your talent for descriptive writing really made it incredible. Thank you for being so honest and vulnerable!

  14. I can completely identify with your opening paragraphs. I, too, never really *thought* about my writing with intention until I started my blog. Clearly writing has been very important for you in recent years, and your writing style has become quite beautiful. Cheers.

    Cath

  15. I like the ending… I like the part where you said there also small details
    in there that shouldn’t be left out. It’s like a part of our lives, a part of the story.. What a beautiful….imagery….good idea to share. Very deep

  16. Great job on a well written piece. Congrats on being freshly pressed. Come check my new post out on Real Life Natural Wife and leave me a comment with your thoughts. Enjoy your day!

  17. So beautiful and totally hit home with me. I just lost my fiancé to cancer a week ago. My life is unraveling. Everything that I laid out before me and thought was best for me is just pulled out from under me like a rug. I do hope to repair and relish the present moments instead of trying to lay Jenga bricks of life again – only to watch it fall down.

    • I am so sorry Bethany. A week is nothing. Your grief is so fresh I’m amazed that you were even able to sit down and write me. When I was in the throes of the worst part of my grief, when my mother had died suddenly and my father was dying, I pushed so hard to ‘get back to normal,’ because I hated feeling so heartbroken all the time. I just wanted to feel better and I wanted things to be like they were before. I was so impatient with everyone who told me that ‘time heals’. I can’t think of anything more frustrating than realizing that sometimes there’s nothing to be done except to let time pass. You feel so helpless and out of control. The best advice I can give you – that I learned the hard way – is just allow yourself to be in the day you’re in, and do the next right thing that’s in front of you. Don’t push yourself too hard to be ‘better’ too soon. Accept the fact that you won’t feel better for a while, and that’s OK. Yes it sucks, but if you try to deny your grief or put up a brave front like you have it all under control, you’ll end up worse off in the long run. Be honest about the fact that you’re scared and feel like the world is unraveling and you don’t know what to do. If you simply ask, you will find there are so many people around you who want to help you and they just weren’t sure how. So be brave and ask. Above all, be kind to yourself. In every way, every day. Sending you love.

      Sarah

      • Oh Sarah you are such a sweet soul. Thank you so much for your words of kindness. In one sense, it’s sad we both have had to deal with grief and sorrow and on the other hand I am grateful for the connection it provides two strangers. You can speak into this trial better than one who has not experienced the pain themselves. I thank you for extending your advice and care my way. I really appreciate the idea of just taking it one day at a time and making the best decision that day. I’ve been trying to pull myself up by my bootstraps, only to find how broken they are. My bootstraps are not what’s going to hold me up. You’re right – time is definitely a good friend. And as painful as it is to watch the hands of time move so slowly, it’s the only thing that can provide healing and comfort. Wishing you many blessings Sarah. May you find comfort in today and peace in the present.

  18. Great article! You were able to capture the last two years of my life with your words. I love that. And I’m so jealous! I want to write like that. Mine just came out whiney! Good for you. I will definitely start following your blog to read more of your writing.

  19. I think you have just described me here in this post…both in how you have been and how life is really unravelling now…in this moment…when both you and I are learning to let go..

  20. I connect with the blog totally. It is a race after the future and the past runs behind us too! And the rush is that mad , that the silence of the present dies off..

  21. Running most of my life futurizing, accomplishing, doing and doing and doing some more as daughter, parent, sibling, volunteer, lawyer, teacher and citizen in a suburb of LA, it took a misstep with consequent crash and complete standstill while I sat in county jail for a month. After the post merry-go-round spinning stopped, along with the fear, humiliation and agony, I sat down inside myself and listened, watched and learned: how truly enchanting is a ray of sunlight or the wisp of a cloud atop a barbed wire roof or the crooked smile-half smiling and half weeping–of a newly de-toxed mother reading a letter from her daughter whom she misses and regrets having disappointed.
    Sometimes you spin so quickly for so long, you have no idea of you’re seeing blurry all the time. Smack stunned stopped in a dingy cell, bare boned and still, with nowhere to go or look, taught me the hidden secrets hiding in the beauty of the mundane, the quotidien.
    Thanks for reminding me with this lovely piece.

  22. Made me think about my own precious moments, which I usually experience on the same coast, just more in the north. It is me, walking on the beach and seeing all the nature, when I feel great. Our civilization is taking its toll when it takes us away from all the simple things that we need to be happy.

  23. I love this.. Your writing is great. I’m from Edinburgh in Scotland and the way you described your day literally just made mine better. The small things in life we gotta appreciate. I hope you have an amazing day 🙂

  24. Thank you for showing us such beautiful shots married with such a lovely description of LA. As I will probably never see the beauty for myself it’s nice to see whatever glimpse I can through others.

  25. What a talented writer are you! Keep doing what you love to do. I look forward to your next post 🙂 Have a nice day!

  26. Pingback: Ten thousand. | Extra Dry Martini

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: