We had a moment. The four of us were in the car, and Joe put on “Apeman” by the Kinks: a catchy tune with silly lyrics masking serious thoughts. The song is about being too scared to live in today’s world, and wanting to run away to a simpler one. Yet lines such as “the only time I feel at ease, is swinging up and down a coconut tree” makes it a family favorite.
As “Apeman” blared through the speakers, I looked to the back seat and saw Dreamer rocking his air guitar while Fearless beat on imaginary drums. Both boys had their eyes closed, heads swinging side to side, shoulders shrugged as they belted out the lyrics in their best 60s British accent. It was perfect.
At that moment I contentedly thought: “this is as good as it gets.”
I’ve had these thoughts before, and they make their way into my blog. As in the time I wrote about Fearless’ marriage proposal. In that one, the world stopped for a minute and I basked in my child’s love. It’s the same type of memory as high school basket ball star, who at fifty is still talking about the winning shot. These are the moments that inspire movies, music, and paintings because we try to recreate and immortalize them so we don’t have to let go of that feeling.
Turns out many of us think about these, and I found this YouTube video by Jason Silva. The video is under three minutes but you do not have to watch it to make sense of this post.
In it, Silva says that moment is simultaneously perfect and melancholic because you know it will end and you want to stretch its feeling for as long as possible. Freud called it transient because it passes, and Silva calls it the existential bummer: these intense, beautiful, special snippets of time are fleeting and you cannot get them back. That is why, he claims, there is a hint of sadness in passion, or of fear in love. Both are accompanied by loss … not just in death but people change, children grow, time passes.
In the video, Silva says he cannot accept the Buddhist teaching of un-attachment: where you realize nothing is permanent and therefore don’t attach yourself to it. Instead he quotes Dylan Thomas and says he “will not go gentle into that good night”, he will fight to hold on to that transient moment just a little longer … or at least try.
I understand. I have hugged my children and squeezed them tight because I sense that transience but I don’t consider letting go of that moment as a bummer. And I am very attached to my children.
What I feel when it is over is more a sense of gratitude than one of loss. I am able to feel this. And once the moment is gone, in it’s vacuum lies the opportunity for a different one. Why would I sell myself short and not experience more?
I guess what I am saying is that what I don’t accept is that this is as good as it’s going to get.
I used to.
I remember leaving tennis camp as a kid thinking I will NEVER have as much fun. I remember the heartbreak of losing a boyfriend because I would never love that much again. I was wrong on all accounts.
Because if experience has taught me anything, is that I’m in for a heck of a ride. It’s not all perfect, and not all happy. But it keeps taking me to unexpected places. I would’ve never guessed I was going to be a preschool teacher. And while I was working at the school, doing what I loved I thought “this is what I was meant to do.” Five years later, as I am writing this at a Starbucks table I am thinking … “no wait, THIS is what I was meant to do.” Truth is, I was meant to do both … each in its time. Holding on to one would forfeit the other.
And why wouldn’t things just get better? Why do I have to think this is as good as it’s going to be and live fearing that this moment will end? I don’t. It’s a choice.
So as “Apeman” played in the background, I winked at Joe who was driving. He too recognized this is one of those special moments and winked back. I turned again to my children and reached for a hand to kiss. I loved them intensely. That moment passed, that moment was transient, but its memory will last for as long as I do.