“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift, that is why it is called the present.”
That quote sounds cheesy- actually, the way it gets used is so cheesy. The thing is: it’s true.
When the weather is nice my wife and I try to spend our Sundays doing outdoorsy activities with our kids. One time we went on a small nature walk to see a beautiful man-made waterfall, the next week we rode our bikes around Flushing Meadows Park. We visit some of the coolest parks in NYC. We look for good settings where we can get out, be active and bond.
The playgrounds are especially pleasant to watch. There is such a simple, real joy in seeing our children play. No fancy toys, Ipads or phones. They streak by with smiles plastered across their faces as they play. We get to catch pieces of their conversations, see them share, discover, giggle. It is one of the most real experiences there are.
At Turtle Pond in Central Park, we got as near as we could to the water to see slider turtles peek up at us and then glide along in the shallow water(Turtle Pond. It’s a pond-with turtles in it.). At the Museum of Moving Image, the kids had a blast making their own personal stop-motion movies. During our hayride at the apple orchard (thanks, grandma!), my 5-year-old daughter babbled on an on about apples and plants, and trees and rain, in her signature sing-song tone, speaking authoritatively, pausing only to breathe mid-word.
So many good times…a near cacophony of memories spill into my mind. There was that polar bear at the Bronx Zoo who had a great sense of timing and um…movement. There was the laugh-attack the kids and I had sitting in the back of our car during lunch outside Dutch Wonderland.
There was the time we enjoyed watching the sun fade beneath the horizon as we crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge:
Our kids’ lemonade stand from years back:
Followed by their less successful hot-chocolate stand the following winter:
And you know about Catboy…
There were small, beautiful moments that we were lucky to catch.
Other moments were missed by our camera’s lenses, but our eyes captured them instead. I tell myself to just be present, mindful, content and grateful. I may forget the exact moments but the feelings that developed will always remain.
At night when my children are asleep, I often creep over to their bedside to observe their serene, cherubic faces and kiss their warm, clammy foreheads (Sometimes they pretend to be asleep). I don’t want to regret not doing enough with them or not hugging or kissing them enough or not appreciating them. I almost never turn down a request for a piggyback ride, or to sit on my lap.
I used to wish everything could last forever. I realized that in a way it was a cruel selfish thing to do. It meant wanting my children to stay the same. It would mean them not reaching more milestones, growing older, maturing, having kids of their own. The moments are hard to let go of but always seem to lead to greater, prouder moments: I’ll trade kids playing in the sandbox for the day my daughter offered to sweep the floor or spent her own money on treats for her siblings.
The moments can’t last forever and they shouldn’t. When the moments are fleeting, every experience becomes once in a lifetime, rare and precious. This is why we want them to last though.
When that wonderful Summer’s day that we went to Central Park turned into night, after everyone was in bed, I remember walking along the street by myself. In the sky was a beautiful, full moon. It’s greyish, yellow glow radiated beyond the confines of its spherical mass and hovered over our world so beautifully. What made it even more striking was that it resided in a gap of clouds that framed it in all around while fainter wisps of clouds floated in front of it obscuring it partially while revealing segments of its silhouette.
I don’t have the picture to share with you. I tried to take one several times, but none of my attempts came close to do doing the scene justice. I had to settle for the memory of this beautiful vision instead. Sometimes, the memory of what you felt becomes greater than what actually happened. Sometimes things are better that way.
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If you want to read PART I of this post, click here. I talk about social media, a place called The Museum of Ice Cream and how we might be slowly losing our way.