Have you ever noticed that you do not remember days, you remember moments?
A strange story about immortalizing moments comes from the book Spiritual Literacy by authors Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat. It is about a Brooklyn cigar store manager named Oggie Rand. Oggie has an unusual habit -- at precisely eight o’clock each morning, he photographs the front of the store. Always at exactly the same time and from exactly the same spot. Every morning. Oggie collects his daily snapshots in photograph albums, each labeled by date. He calls his project his “life’s work.”
One day Oggie showed his albums to a friend. He had not told his friend about his unusual hobby. Flipping the pages of the albums, the man noticed in amazement that the pictures were all the same.
Oggie watched him skim through the pictures and finally replied, “You’ll never get it if you don’t slow down, my friend. The pictures are all of the same spot, but each one is different from every other one. The differences are in the detail. In the way people’s clothes change according to season and weather. In the way the light hits the street. Some days the corner is almost empty. Other times it is filled with people, bikes, cars and trucks. It’s just one little part of the world, but things take place there, too, just like everywhere else.”
This time Oggie’s friend looked more carefully at each picture. No two were alike. Every picture was unique, just as every moment is unique. Through a series of photographs, he became conscious of one of life’s great truths -- that each minute that passes is special, even sacred.
I’m reminded of something writer Henry Miller said, “The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.” And those are the moments we’ll remember; the ones for which we stopped everything else long enough to pay close attention.
The advice for me is this: to pay as close attention to each moment as I can, as if I were carefully observing a series of snapshots. I would like to take time to study the moments. If I look closely enough, I know I’ll see that each is unique. Each is sacred. And each holds a special place in time.
I suspect it will be these moments -- not whole days, weeks, months or years -- that I will finally remember. And much of the happiness and joy I will find in life will be because I took care of the moments.
-- Steve Goodier