Posted by: Abe's Blog | March 17, 2010

The Moment

I had to take a quick business trip down to the Northern California coastal town of Arcata. Arcata is in Humboldt County, the unofficial Doobage Capital of the World (though this had absolutely nothing to do with my trip). I decided that I wanted to ride my motorcycle and after checking the weather reports and seeing that I had a 2-day window of rare spring sunshine, I strapped on my helmet and kissed my apprehensive wife good-bye.

Early yesterday morning I negotiated the hairpin turns through the massive redwoods that crowd Highway 101, their enormous trunks encroaching on the road surface as if they are taking it over in secret, incremental steps. It was early morning and I was so cold I was shaking, but I almost felt it… Later, with the sun shining full on my face and Sting’s A Thousand Years playing through my headphones, I glanced to the west and saw the giant Sequoia forest turning golden in the morning light and for a brief time I was there–in The Moment. When I realized that I was There, I smiled and relaxed and lifted my head back to take the wind on my chin. Predictably, The Moment came and went and I was left to motor the remain few hundred miles in the normal realm of reality.

There are times–moments–when each of our senses receive the precise amount of stimulation necessary to trigger a heightened awareness of our surroundings. In these moments, colors are brighter, sounds are crisper, every breath of wind is a touch from God across our face, and the warm scent of the fresh world adds to the perfection of the instant. When I have experienced these times, I was usually alone and most likely outdoors. I can recall a handful of these moments with vivid clarity:

Early in the morning, high in the mountains above Lemolo Lake, wearing bib waders and carrying a fly rod, I entered a crystal clear stream where it emerged as a creek from the side of a mountain and followed it down to where it became a small river. The water was as clear as glass and bitter cold. Lodgepole pine mixed with mountain hemlock and Douglas-fir, growing widely spaced among the tall grass on the edge of the water. The grass banks overhung the stream, with dark pockets beneath. As I cast my fly into these crevices, two elk trod noisily through the shore grass, oblivious to my presence, while overhead an Osprey flew downstream to find fish in the lake. After a time, I realized that I had lost the fly from the end of my line and was casting only a bare leader. Somehow I had the presence of mind to realize that it did not matter–I was not here to catch fish. I was here to be blessed.

On another spur-of-the-moment trip, I pulled my truck off into a snow bank within view of Mount Thielsen, strapped skis to my feet and followed an abandoned logging road into the wilderness. My dog was with me, a black lab bounding happily through the drifts, following her nose where ever it led, silly tongue hanging in the breeze. The morning was cold and the snow perfect for gliding. My skis barely broke the surface and every step was a glide and a whoosh and a glide and another. I had a destination, but soon I realized that such a plan was unneccessary. I was here to observe and partake in the scene of a man and his dog deep in the silent wood. I remember pausing once to drink some water and watched as a fox passed within yards of my dog, both oblivious to the presence of the other, and I felt the thrill of it all pass through me with a soft electric pulse.

There have been times when the moment has been entered with others as well. Improvisational music sessions with talented musicians can often lead to this state. At times, I have found myself nearly weeping with the beauty of the connections that have been created within the mystical state of the sound. If I sit at a grand piano with an open top, I can achieve this moment with near certainty–there is something about the sound waves and the way that they travel when created by the long, wound steel of the piano strings that affect me deeply.

To my disappointment, I have found that specific moments can not be re-created. They are there only for the time that we experience them, then they are gone from the real world and left only in our memories–the tracers of beauty burned deep into our inner retinas. If we pass too quickly through our lives, we may miss these moments all-together. I have noticed that two people can share the exact same experience, yet one is unaffected by the magic that left the other speechless and trembling.

My words to you are this: Seek the beauty that surrounds you. Open your eyes, your ears, your nostrils, your mouth. Taste and see what was created for you. And when the moment descends and you realize It is here, open your arms, throw back your head, and drink it all in.

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Responses

  1. Abe.. This deserves more than words. How beautifuly you express things I have no idea how to say, but can only feel.

    Just beautiful to the core my friend.

    • Thank you, Brandi. I really appreciate that.

  2. Sweet! First of all, big Sting fan! Love that I could hear the song in the background as I was reading. Secondly, I agree wholeheartedly: we have to embrace the wonderous moments and being open to more of them, being aware that they are there will only let us experience more of them, hopefully! Thank you for that before my morning run (great reminder!).

    • Thank you, N. The opening bass line of that song always set me up for a beautiful state of mind.

  3. Abe! Wow. I loved reading this!

    Your note about the ephemeral aspects of these moments is noted with a mental exclamation point. No matter how hard you try, you can’t recreate them. So true.

    I’ve had those moments with improvised music as well. And, believe it or not, one such moment happened during a pre-improvisational comedy warm up routine. It was called the “wall of sound” and was designed to put us in sync with each other. We all had to gather in a line at the front of the room, close our eyes, and sing just one note. I won’t lie to you: it brought tears to my eyes.

    • Hmmm…sounds like you are kind of a cry-baby. My wife likes to laugh at me when stupid Disney movies make something get caught in my eye.

      • Walt Disney’s main evil purpose was to separate all men from their Man Cards. Fortunately mine is chainlocked to my belt loop. They’ve tried to take it away several times now.

        • Yeah! Hang on tight. You never know when Bambi’s momma is gonna get blown away and the dam is burst again.

  4. Wow, Did you ever get into writing in college? Yes, my eyes watered but as a man you quickly blink the eyes and think of football……..lol I think I get into ‘the moment’ when I read this. Pure bliss.

    • Thank you, Mike. Honestly, I tried to stay away from any but the mandatory writing classes as they kind of drove me nuts :p

      Art school is the same way. I appreciate the manly sentiment.

  5. Abe, what a fantastic write! I know what you mean about the disappointment in trying to re-create… geesh! But really, I enjoyed this… and you made some valuable points I can totally relate to. You & me are a lot alike 🙂 Love the bike pic! XOXO

    • Thanks Suz! Glad you like the blog and the bike pic. I haven’t had a motorcycle since I crashed my Honda CB750 when I was 17. I’m riding careful and braking for idiots.

  6. Reading this gave me that Ah hah ! moment.

  7. Great advice… working on it.


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