Have you ever been going about your business when suddenly something SMACKS you in the face?!
This question could be taken literally or figuratively, but I’m sure it has happened to most of us at one point or another. Sometimes these ‘SMACKS’ can be a moment of clarity, new perspective or a bit of nostalgia and other times they can be a light pole, an insect or a helpful hand guiding your cheek in a new direction…..we’ll focus on the former rather than the latter.
This weekend I was going about my business, mostly relaxing and enjoying one of the last uneventful weekends of the summer before our chaotic schedule picks back up. My father had come to visit and we were eating, talking and laughing Friday evening, sharing some much needed family time. After a delectable meal of lasagna and apple pie, graciously prepared by my beautiful wife, we moved to the living room to meld with the sofa. As we were talking, my dad mentioned that he had brought some DVDs with him and wanted to see if they would play properly in our DVD player. A few months earlier I had asked my dad about the old VHS tapes that we had recorded during our childhood and suggested that we transfer them to DVD before the tapes were ruined and it was too late. He had started this project and wanted to test out some of the ones that he had transferred before he continued with the rest. I browsed through some of the titles written on the DVDs and put a couple in to check them out.
First up, some summer league basketball from the ’90s….pretty entertaining stuff for everyone in the room, that was ‘me’. My dazzling basketball skills lit up the screen for all to see, including my thoroughly impressed 17-year-old. I made the assumption he was impressed based upon the way he was utilizing his cell phone the entire time, presumably texting his friends and posting on social media about the newfound extent of his athletic heritage. Outside of my ‘mad handles’ and the accuracy of my shooting form, one thing I’m positive all of us were entertained by was….the length of our shorts. It is an interesting irony to compare the general conservatism of years past with the playing of basketball in shorts which I’m certain were shorter than the boxer briefs I wear today. To everyone in the room, I could only say, you’re welcome.
After the highlight reel of action, we slowed things down a bit with some footage of our days in the marching band, my brother’s first prom and my 15th birthday. It was a continuous flow of smiles and chuckles as we viewed the bold statements being made by my “Fresh Prince” overalls and Chicago Bulls sweat suit.
It hit me solid and from my blind spot. In one seemingly small moment, I became flooded. A simple scene unfolded lasting only 6 seconds, but the effects will stay with me exponentially longer. As the camera recorded a normal day in the living room of my childhood home, my dad walked past, reached out and pulled my mom in front of the camera. My mom laughingly protested and tried to cover her face before giving us one pure, true smile. It was over in an instant, but the room around me had dissolved. I was no longer sitting on the couch, watching a DVD in 2017. I was now in my childhood living room in 1992, captivated by my mother’s smile….and I wasn’t going anywhere.
My mom was definitively the most amazing mom who has ever lived. Other people may disagree or have their own opinions, but I understand; it’s simply because they didn’t have MY mom. The level of love and commitment she expressed to her family and specifically, my brother and I, is just irreplicable. She was strong and loving and supportive and sympathetic and beautiful, and she passed away in 2009. Being able to see my mom’s smile and hear my mom’s laugh gave me a mixture of raw emotions that were also irreplicable and I welcomed them with open arms.
As the weekend went on I slowly moved back to the present, but not without a tight grip on that moment. I started thinking about how much that moment meant to me and how my mom would have never known I would have this experience 25 years later. It made me wonder, what if my dad hadn’t pulled her in front of the camera that day in 1992? What if I hadn’t seen her smile or heard her laugh that night in 2017? I’m thankful that I do not know the answer to those questions. What I do know is that I am so thankful that he DID pull her in front of the camera that day, unknowingly allowing his son to one day have a moment that will be cherished for years to come.
You may be wondering what my end game is here. Sure, this is a heartfelt moment and a nice story, but why am I sharing it with all of you? To me, this is a good reminder to get out of our own way. I think about my mom covering her face, wanting to hide from the camera and it makes me realize how often we all do that. The camera comes out and we instantly think about ‘right now’. What am I wearing, ‘right now’? What am I doing, ‘right now’? How do I look, ‘right now’? Who is watching me, ‘right now’? We become so focused on ‘right now’ that we don’t realize we are inadvertently swindling moments from the future. Those moments could be for us, for our friends, our family, our children or our grandchildren, but they only happen if we provide the opportunity. I’m sure we have all heard some version of the statement that your biggest regrets will be the things you didn’t do, the chances you didn’t take or the love you didn’t show. It has taken me 40 years to really relate to this concept, but I now believe it wholeheartedly. I know that my mom is looking down, loving that I was able to have that moment and the emotions that came with it. Nostalgia isn’t always about living in the past or mourning something lost. During that moment when time stood still, I wasn’t flooded with emotions because my mom was gone. I was flooded with emotions because my mom was here. For that moment in time, with that laugh and that smile, she was here again and I felt her love.
So, my advice is, smile for the camera, dance for the video, do something you’re terrible at just because your kids want you to. Whatever you do, just be kind to your future and let your light shine. Someday, you’ll thank me for it….
Thank you for spending a portion of your day with me. If you enjoyed reading this post please like/comment/share and consider subscribing to Lazy 40 Year Old. Have a great day!!