"Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in..."
Living In the Moment
Yesterday there was a loud, fierce thunderstorm late in the afternoon. Though the day had been much too hot and humid, the storm caught me off guard and I found myself standing out on my balcony, squinting up in vague confusion at the overcast sky as the raindrops pelted down, plummeting from the clouds. Much like the image above, I stretched out my arms and felt the raindrops, warm and wet, hitting the undersides of my arms, my palms. It was a luscious, summery feeling. It was a rare moment for me to reach out and willingly feel the rain. I -- the girl always dashing quickly inside or hurriedly opening an umbrella at the first droplet of water -- was standing there, arms outstretched, actually enjoying the fall of rain, the way the drops hit my skin quickly, one after another after another, as if it were a race to see which of them could collide with the world first. I appreciated their warmth, a sure sign of a summer storm that would soon be ending. I appreciated the urgency of them, the way they fell so fast and so frequently that within moments my open palms were dripping. Had I been wearing an elastic band around my wrist like the girl in the image above, it most certainly would have been soaked. It was coming down that hard and there I was, in a very rare and un-Dani-like moment, just taking it in, looking up at the sky, at the clouds, and feeling the rain on my skin. I couldn't help but notice just how in the moment I was. I was there, really feeling it, and, in spite of my lasting and quite serious dislike of rain, I was enjoying that moment. In fact, I loved it. A summer shower, a balcony, wet palms and wrist, and a little dog at my feet, looking up at me with a mixed expression of confusion and discontent.
The Multiple Meanings of a Moment
How odd, I realized in that moment when I looked down at the expression on my pup's face, it must be not to understand what thunder is! How unnerving it must be to hear such a sound and have not only no concept of what it is, but also to have no way of understanding that it's okay (as children often have when they're reassured by their parents). Looking at my dog, her little face turned up to mine, I realized that a moment can consist of so many things. Of course there was me in the rain (or, rather, my arms in the rain; let's not get carried away because there's pretty much no way I'd be out in a rainstorm without a very good reason). There was the rain itself, having its own moment as if it were battling the world. And then, of course, there was the dog and her moment. Just on the verge of shaking, unsure whether or not the loud, booming noise of thunder would strike again, little Bella the dog stood there, looking up at me, worry and wonder on her fur-covered face. Using warm-as-the-rain tones and words I knew she knew (like "it's okay" and "good girl"), I did what I could to quell her fears, but there is only so much you can communicate when you don't speak the same language.
Letting Go of Your Moment
In this moment, trying as I had been for five years of rainstorms to tell her that it was okay, I realized that sometimes things are better left unsaid. Some things are too difficult to communicate with words. Instead, I wiped my wet wrists, palms, and forearms on my T-shirt, bent down, and scooped that pup up. She placed her head on my shoulder as I slid the glass door shut, safe and dry inside of my apartment. I realized that one's moment of pleasure might be another's moment of terror. To comfort another was worth giving up on that moment of joy, that brief period of standing there, rain-soaked and smiling, on the balcony. While I sat with Bella on my lap for the next half an hour -- until the thunder finally wandered off and her pinned-back ears eased up once again to a more relaxed position -- I realized just how much it probably meant to her, to be sitting on my lap, in a place of safety, while the odd and unexplained noises carried on outside. It made me think a lot about how each moment can mean so much (or so little) for someone and how that very same moment in time can pass by virtually unnoticed by others.
No One Else Can Feel It For You
As Natasha Bedingfield sings in "Unwritten" (I know, I can't help but think The Hillsevery time I hear the song, which is playing in my head almost every time it rains), no one else can be in your moment. Every moment is there, waiting for you, but no one can ever feel it the way that you can. Take, for example, the situation with Bella and I. It was the same moment, the same minutes ticking past as we stood on the balcony, side by side. But what was similar about our moments? Very little. She was terrified, her fear mounting every time the thunder boomed in the distance. I was happy, relishing in a rare moment of present-ness as the rain fell on my skin. Same moment, yet so different. Experiencing this with her, looking at her reactions and feeling my own, I learned a lot. I learned...
... that we all can react to the very same moment in completely different ways.
... that no one can tell you -- or should tell you -- how a moment should make you feel.
... that sometimes you have to let go of your own moment and fall into someone else's.
... that you should pay attention not only to your reactions but to the reactions of others.
... that transforming a moment for the sake of another can make it the very best moment of all.
They were transformative, those minutes sitting there on the couch with Bella and realizing all of this. It wasn't until much later in the evening, after the rain had stopped, that I realized how important this was, how much it meant. Over the past few months I've spent so much time trying to focus on the present, to live in the moment, and it was a revelation to realize the meaning of a moment, to realize the multiple meanings of a moment, and to recognize that there is a time for selfishly indulging whole heartedly in my own moments and there is a time for realizing that there are others sharing in the same moment, feeling perhaps very differently from the way I feel. I will never say that living in the moment isn't ideal. I firmly believe that living in the moment is essential to getting the most out of life. What I'm thinking about now -- and would love to hear your opinions on -- is how different a single moment can be and how important it is not only to live in our own moments but to recognize the moments of others as well. Being present doesn't have to mean being selfish. Being present means being aware, not only of yourself and the moments you're living, but of the moments of others as well.
Do you find that you're aware of the moments others are experiencing?
How often to realize the differences between your moment and another's?
Do you ever feel as if you are forsaking your own moments for the satisfaction of others?