A Single Moment

I suspect that we have more perfect moments than we are aware of. I bet they happen every day, without us noticing.

There was one yesterday, when Coco and I were at the Shehadi's pond, right before the storm. She had been in the water already, so her hair was wet. She was wearing a pretty bikini and she looked perfect in that 12-year-old way. There are many times when I describe Coco and her friends in terms of where they are headed: to being teenagers. But I forget that where they are is a kind of perfection.

We were at the pond and the sky was losing its blue. The clouds kept covering the sun. We were talking about how we were going to take the polliwogs in our tiny pond and release them into the larger pond. We were making a plan, a good one.

We were talking about spending the night at Green Pond together, in Mark and Margaret's cottage, mother and daughter, alone together on a summer night.

Coco found a dime on the rock beside the pond. We find dimes quite often and in funny places. We take them as a sign from Matthew, who died in a hiking accident last summer. We think he is letting us know that everything is OK and that people who have died still have a sense of humor. That they are close, helping us helpless humans.

Everything about being at the pond was great, especially the view down the valley. From up there, at the Shehadi's pond, you can see the hills and the top of the church in the distance. "There is my church," I thought to myself. Sometimes I think that it's all mine, my church. It's not, of course, but I like to pretend.

There was a perfect moment when I was in the water and floating around and Coco was standing in the grass with her towel wrapped around her, talking to me. I saw her face, her braces, her hair, lips. She kept rearranging the towel so that sometimes she would be covered and sometimes I would see her belly, her legs. And inside my head, where I think a lot of things I don't say, I thought to myself, "Wow, look at that creature. That's my daughter."

  They're everywhere, all the time.

They're everywhere, all the time.

It is not lost on me that she is going through puberty while I am going through menopause. One of us is entering and one of us is exiting the ripe, full-blown stages of womanhood. Both of us are in a kind of labor. She will lose the innocence of childhood and I will lose the fertility that for so many years defined me as a woman. It feels like the juices are seeping out of me and into her, my daughter. Which is as it should be.

There we were, the two of us, at the pond, swimming and talking. Watching a storm roll in. Thinking of Matthew and making a polliwog plan.

I think that life is filled with perfection, with many perfect moments. Only I think we humans have to work harder than ever to recognize them. Often we are taking pictures of and imagining the public response to our moments. We have become reporters, photographing and sharing the news of our lives.

I remember this from when I was first falling in love with photography, about fifteen years ago. I was taking my camera everywhere I went; I was eating images of the world for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But then I became worried and I asked my friend, Barrie, who had been a professional photographer for many years, "Am I really living in the moment if I'm taking pictures of it? Will being a photographer take away from actual living?"

Barrie told me that things would sort themselves out and that I would eventually be able to do both, experience and photograph.

But digital cameras meant that we no longer had to deal with film and pretty soon lots of people had a camera. Then came the iPhone and everyone had a camera.

I think that moments of perfection are meant to be lived-in and not photographed. I think the perfection is not only in the visuals, but also in the feelings that wash over you and seep into your skin and bones in those moments. I think that that's how memories get lodged in our hearts: through our senses. I would encourage you to find a single moment of perfection in your day today. See it, hear it, taste and touch it. Bring every part of what makes you human to the moment. Send the Wow prayer out into the air around you. And then continue having your beautiful day. Amen.