Life is available only in the present moment. – Thich Nhat Hanh
I want to soak up every single second.
Last night’s middle school choir and band concert gave me the opportunity. Hundreds of parents gathered in the school’s cafeteria to hear their children. My youngest daughter, Emily, sings in the seventh grade choir.
I arrived a few minutes before the performance started. The cafeteria’s tables were stacked in the corners. Folding chairs filled the space the tables once occupied. In those chairs sat the hundreds of parents – but not one chair sat empty. I know better to arrive late.
I took a program and scanned it. Emily’s choir was the second-from-last group. With no place to sit, and at least 45 minutes to wait, I decided to wander the halls. It’s fun to scour the bulletin boards looking for my child’s name or a project she created.
The seventh grade hall looped around the back of the school and lead to the gymnasium’s entrance. On the walls were poster-sized glass frames containing pictures of students who attended the school. There was a frame for each year.
Beginning with 2003, I found Andrew, my younger son. Taking one step to the right, his face was easy to spot in the 2004 frame. The glass revealed my expression – it was a mixture of melancholy and regret. So many moments have passed in this seven year span, and they have passed quickly.
Where did these moments go? It seems like they have flown into the clouds. I want to reach up and pull each moment back down. I would put aside what I once considered to be urgent or important to hold these moments a little closer.
Sometimes the simple path to appreciating the present moment is created when we realize what we once took for granted has become our most cherished gift.
The eight-grade band’s rendition of The Phantom of the Opera was my cue to return to the cafeteria. I found a place to stand that gave me a direct line to Emily. She spotted me, smiled and then turned back to the conductor.
The last song her group sang was Will You Teach Me. At that moment there was no other place I wanted to be. My heart soaked up every single word:
Will you teach me how to sing,
how to sing through all the sorrows life may bring?
Will you teach me how to dream
to face the future sight unseen?
Will you teach me,
teach me how to be the only thing that I can be,
What I once took for granted was the present moment. I’m learning this moment, the present moment, is the most important moment for me.
What is A Simple Path?
This post is in A Simple Path, a series of short pieces inspired by my own life experiences. Each post is a simple path to experiencing something wonderful: maybe seeing life from a different perspective, or celebrating its beauty. Click here to read all posts in the series.