Friday, November 4, 2011

Perfect Moments

I’m not a perfectionist. Believe me. I’ve often regretted that, feeling that I am sometimes entirely too casual about the details of things. Actually, most of the true perfectionists I have known would give almost anything to be a bit looser – a little less anal, shall we say? I also believe that the perpetual search for perfection is the road to disappointment, though when it occurs it is a joy indeed.

What I now pursue are perfect moments. It can happen anywhere. And a moment is an inexact measure of can be a few seconds or a few hours, or more. The length of time neither enhances nor diminishes its perfection.

A few mornings ago, the season abruptly changed from late fall to early winter. Feeling a chill in the house, I grabbed my sunglasses and my Kindle and headed for the front porch where the morning sun was strong and bright. The metal chair was warm and as I sat down it seemed to envelope me in heat. It was completely quiet but for the thrum of a hummingbird and a light breeze ruffling the bushes. I drew in a deep breath and realized that I was living a perfect moment. From inside the house I could hear Vivaldi playing softly, and I felt all my senses sharpened. I noticed things I might have simply brushed by. In the modest garden, the plants were pulling back to prepare for winter, the summer’s vibrant colors now gone to drab. The butterfly bush now vacant and dry will be back in the spring. Those pink flowers whose name I can never remember are gone too, but I know they are still there, resting as they deserve to do. Gracie and Alfie sat quietly by me, content for a while to let the birds fly and the bugs crawl without feeling the need to chase or bark. I wanted to freeze the moment.

To be sure, there are life’s perfect dramas, such as the birth of a child, a wedding, a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, a family reconciliation -- precious and welcome when they occur, but rare. The perfect moments can be as mundane as finishing a long put off project, baking a pie that, for once, looks like the picture in the cookbook, as deeply moving as an intimate conversation with a dearly loved friend or sitting in a darkened concert hall listening to a sublime performance of a favorite work.
Perhaps it has to do with adjusting one’s expectations. To live more consciously is to find many more moments to appreciate fully, or as someone put it “it’s not about having what you want; it’s about wanting what you have.” Tom is a good example of that. His always cheerful spirit makes the best of every day, happy with the small world he inhabits. I am learning much from him. He seems to be unbothered by his lack of memory for the past, and focused instead on the pleasures of the moment.   
I say to life “surprise me!” (And I mean that in a good way!)  In the meantime, I think life wants me to find the perfect, sacred moments that are all around just waiting to be fully embraced. I don’t want to miss a single one.


  1. I had a brief moment while visiting my sister last week. We were sitting on the couch discussing mom, and all the sudden we just held each others hands and sat quietly. Said nothing,as nothing needed to be said.She and I are so on the same page sometimes it's scarey.Hope all is well with you. Dot K.

  2. PS I clicked on to become a follower, just so you know it's under my husbands name Gene. Dot K

  3. Those are wonderful moments, I can think of many I would love to have back, but know I never will.
    Beautiful words Nancy... thank you for sharing.

  4. This is just the thing for me to read on Shabbat. Even though we are instructed to honor this day of rest by just "Being" I often find it difficult.

    I had to chuckle about the pie part. Yesterday I found a few apples of our hundreds that do not have worm holes (which rots the core). Already this morning I pulled out my fifty-year-old "Joy of Cooking" for a refreshment on apple pies, and Ray just came back with the required butter (I cook only with olive oil).

    You have inspired me to get away from this computer and start my new (one day old) regimen of a walk up and down our 1/3 mile driveway.

    Of course as with your "Sip Wine..." poetry, I got teary at the Tom snapshot. Give him a hug for me.

    Love, Michelle