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I asked a friend once, if she ever stopped in the middle of experiencing something, and had the realization that she was living something special and memorable as it was occuring. “No,” she said, after a moments thought. “Really?” I was surprised. “You never stop for just a second, and think ‘This is a special moment. Savor it.’ ?”  “No,” she said again. “I have memories of nice days or fun activities, that’s good enough.” I don’t know if it was the answer, or her lack of regret for it that bothered me more. “I’m sorry,” I said…and I meant it.

Have we lost some of our ability to be moved? Are we moving at such a frenetic pace, or inundated by so much information, that we don’t even recognize The Moment when it occurs? Or maybe we are so accepting of artificial additives, photoshopping, CGI, and virtual whatever, that we can’t recognize something as genuine? Even if it’s a feeling or a realization in our gut?

When I was younger, before I moved to Maine, my family would escape the suburban sprawl of the New York/New Jersey metropolitan belt and spend two weeks in Acadia National Park. We would spend the entire time hiking, rock hopping on the coast, or sitting on the shoreline, watching the water. Acadia’s small mountains are all cloaked in evergreens and birches, with summits of bald pink granite. The rewards are many…almost every summit has 360 degree views of ocean, pine-rimmed islands, lakes, neighboring peaks, and unspoiled woodlands. And yet, for the first few days of the vacation, I always felt like I was just “looking” at the scenery. I didn’t “see” it…I didn’t feel it. It was almost as if I needed a couple of days to detox. It’s as if there’s a film over our eyes for daily living…we drown out traffic noise, focus on where we have to go and not on what’s in front of us. I needed to let it in, and to open my eyes.

And then, a few days into the vacation, a Moment would happen. I wasn’t just “looking” at waves crashing on rocks or the treeline below me swaying in an August breeze…I saw the spray hang in the air and catch the sun before falling back into the sea. I heard the thrush’s song carry on the wind that twisted the scraggly summit pines. That same breeze wrapped me in that peculiar perfume of a Maine summer…balsam, sea salt, warm pine tar…I was inside this place, this moment in time, and I was feeling it with every fiber of my being. And yet a part of me was outside of it…it was the arm wrapped around my shoulder, the hand pointing to all that lay before me, the voice whispering in my ear “Grab this Moment. Remember this feeling. Stop. Use your senses. Use your soul.”

This is what The Moment is.

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