Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Those Moments

I was sitting with my father watching my son play goalie over the weekend when my father compared the goalie position to that of a pilot using the old joke... "hours and hours of sheer boredom interrupted by moments of sheer terror." It is true in many ways... since a great deal of the time the puck is on the opposite end of the rink and there is absolutely nothing to do. But just when the boredom sets in, the puck changes hands and suddenly, as was the case in this game, here come three opposing players with not a defensemen in sight. My stomach drops every time this happens as I watch from the stands. I can only imagine what it must be like to be in the line of fire.

These moments happen not just in hockey games... or in the cockpit... but every day and all around us. And these "moments of terror" aren't always terrifying. The analogy also works for the special moments in life. Those moments when we are, as Joseph Campbell would call it... "fully engaged". Moments when things fly at you from all angles and your body and mind react instinctively. Moments of joy. Moments of terror. Moments when the story lines that we are writing for ourselves come to climax. It is the continuous perfection of that moment that Buddha sought... the name Buddha itself meaning "awakened". In the Hindu and Christian cultures the concept of god becoming part of the world underlies the idea that our incarnation here is merely a forgetting of the spirit life so that we can experience these moments in this existence. There is something reassuring in this idea... that a supreme being would seek to be a part of this world simply to experience that which we take for granted daily.

This concept has been much on my mind of late. The concept of "moments" of life. My life is indeed vast stretches of boredom... of sameness... punctuated by moments of sheer terror... or joy... moments of sheer emotion. Those moments form together like touchstones of my past, forming a life lived. I remember not the filler moments... those moments... like now... that simply lead to the climax. But I remember the births... the deaths... the coming togethers... the breaking aparts... the moments where mind and body are in perfect accord. Those moments when time slows to a crawl and all of my senses are alive.

The Buddha's search for a place where all moments where "those moments" is noble and telling... for truly every moment CAN be one of those moments if we let ourselves experience it that way. But then again, I wonder if we are capable of appreciating the moments if they are ALL special. And perhaps the ebbs and flows of life have a purpose... to lull us into a place where sheer terror... or sheer joy... are possible. And perhaps my challenge is to except the "in between moments" as necessary parts of the whole. We are impatient these days for things to happen NOW, instead of enjoying the times of quiet for what they are... prelude.

After the game, I asked my son what he does to stay focused when the puck was on the other end of the rink. "I hum." And I nodded... and I smiled.


  1. As much as I complain about monotony, I fear - not the uphill climb to the turning point - but the downward spiral that sometimes follows. Because there is no assurance that when we hit the climax, or some zenith we claw upwards trying to reach, that there will be a calm, comforting plateau at the top.

    And I tell you - I am tired of tumbling down a rocky slope unawares, because I always expect it to be different.

    With that said, I am impressed by not one instance of too many periods in an ellipse.

  2. We all fear that. Climaxes don't always mean happy endings for us (insert some sort of sexual joke here).

    And I actually took a few ellipses OUT. I know. I'm addicted.

  3. Yes, I understand. I have a certain fondness for commas that could be seen as unhealthy.

    And thanks for saying insert. No need to actually UNCLUDE a joke when you put it like that.

  4. Excellent. It has been my focus, the gift of being present, not missing the joy of a moment, managing moments of pain, being aware of all of it. My Dad is so good at life in this way. He carries a small magnifying glass so he can look at, a bug, dirt...because everything in this world fascinates him. He wants to learn, no matter what the moment brings, and because of this, he brings so much to the moment.

  5. This is one of my favorite blogs you have ever written... :-) I love your self-examining of life and it's moments...

    And I rival you with my love of ellipse's... I too am a big fan. They speak, without saying a word...

  6. I'm reminded of my mother when I was little. I would be starving and beg for a bite before dinner--and she would say, "appetite is the best ingredient." (chuckle) I tell my boys that now. How...cultivating(?) my appetites--the anticipation...makes life so much richer. It's like being in a great house at Christmas with all those aromas swirling around you. You know there is bliss--as well as dishes in your future.

  7. I think it's a noble cause, as well- however one gets there.

    Hmm. Carrying a magnifying glass sounds like a good idea.

  8. @HE- I simply love the idea of carrying a magnifying glass around... just the symbolism alone is brilliant.

    @Lindsay- Why thank you, :) And here was me sort of spitballing because the idea wasn't really fully hatched when I started.

    @Chantel- I never unstood those that couldn't find bliss in the small things. But I know too many people like that.

    @JK- It's certainly less fun with maps.

  9. I have to remember to hum during the interim.

  10. Excellent. We have the next Sid the kid on our blog rolls!

  11. We would if he could skate... more like Fleury.. or his favorite **gasp**... Brodeur.

  12. It has been challenging for me to learn not to be a complete adrenaline junkie, and learn to really appreciate all the things in between. Thanks for articulating this concept so well here :)