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More Perfect Moments

So much of enjoying life is about how you approach it. There are quotes and philosophies galore about that…

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein

“Every day I have a choice to be happy.” – ??

“If you don’t get everything you want, think of the things you don’t get that you don’t want.”  ~Oscar Wilde

“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”  ~Mary Engelbreit

We made a conscious choice to live in a “simpler place” — literally and figuratively — several years ago — a place where the car you drive matters less. Where kids can be kids, and unstructured playtime that focuses on being outdoors is the norm, not the exception. Where the line between Needs and Wants is clearer. Where family time is something you live, not something to which you aspire as you are racing to Yoga class to find a 45 minute respite from your over-scheduled life. A place where I consciously focus on the positive instead of dwell on the negative. The literal move made this figurative move easier but it’s not necessary to move house to gain clarity. The more important shift is in your head. Stripping away the extraneous bullshit in my life made room to appreciate Perfect Moments.

I wrote about a beautiful, happy one not too long ago. But Perfect Moments are not necessarily happy moments; they are moments when all is clear, when everything gels. They can appear, on the face of it, trivial, unhappy or even dangerous. I had one yesterday.

It’s late morning and I’m skiing with Danny and some good friends. The kids are off by themselves so it’s just the 4 adults. Conditions are horrible — golf ball and softball-sized icy chunks litter the slopes. Wind gusts so strong that the resort occasionally stops the main chairlift.  But still, we are enjoying the outdoors, are with friends, and are getting exercise doing something we love. And — every skiers Nirvana — there are no lift lines.  We’re halfway down an expert trail, on the steepest part. My friend stops close to the edge to rest. I stop alongside her. Or attempt to. I skid and slide on the ice, fall into a crouch and slow almost to a stop,  inches from crashing into her. “Whoa! that was close!”  I start to stand up. Still mostly crouched down, a wicked-strong wind gust hits me from behind and pushes me closer to the edge. I lose my balance, get blown over onto my back and gravity takes over. I slide downhill head-first, spreadeagled, half-laughing, half-screaming.  I pick up speed. I am off the groomed part of the trail, in the rough. I am not slowing down. This is kind of fun! My helmet is bumping over ice chunks. I try to turn so that I can see where I am going — I know there are boulders down here. A stream? Is there a stream on this part of the trail? I try to remember. Where am I in relation to the ski lift towers? I can’t turn myself. I don’t know what is behind me, what I might hit. Now am a little scared, but mostly it feels surreal. I feel the strain in my neck. “Protect my neck, protect my neck, protect my neck…” I clasp my mittened hands behind my neck. I do not know if this will help but I feel better doing it. I know how awful this fall must look to those watching…my waterskiing experience kicks in and I keep thinking ‘wave your hand when you stop to signal that you are ok.’ Finally I stop. I wave my hand. I can already tell I have another killer bruise forming on my hip. Seconds later, Kris is next to me, saying “ARE YOU OK?!” I sit up and see huge “rocks” of ice that I narrowly missed. I am (miraculously) not seriously hurt. I burst out laughing and can’t stop. I am laughing so hard my eyes are tearing. Danny and Kevin ski over to us and one of them says something like “We came over the headwall and saw you laying on the ground not moving. We thought you were paralyzed.” I am still laughing — adrenaline, I think. “BEST. FALL. EVER! I wish my brother was here to see it — he would have laughed his ass off.” It is a beautiful day, I am doing something I love, I am not hurt, I can laugh at myself, and I am with people I care about and who care about me. Life Is Good.

It is easy to celebrate the obvious good times, large and small — the birth of children, promotions at work, a good report card. But finding joy in everyday moments, in moments that are not inherently or obviously “perfect moments” — that is a true gift. And more and more, I find it is the key to my happiness. It is definitely the road less traveled. And yes, it has made all the difference.

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