Why We Can't Keep Magical Moments

Just like a healthy relationship, moments are magical because they're composed of beautiful elements that stand on their own. Mutual respect and admiration, but no demands for conformity or change.

I was on a hike in Los Altos with my husband to kick off the New Year. Northern California is the perfect place to go hiking, in my opinion, not only because it's so accessible but because it reminds me slightly of Ireland. (Yup, it's that awesome!)

We were out on a muddy road while it was drizzling down, and the fog was speeding across the hills. My husband stopped me and said, "Look, it's almost like the ground is moving away from us!" Fog has a funny way of making things look like that.

We stopped at one point when I noticed a particularly vibrant patch of moss and fungi growing on a brilliantly colored tree. It was the kind of tree that looked like a brunette with red lowlights, and sun seemed to be shining right out of it, putting the tree in stark contrast to the fog, wind, and rain around it.

I asked my husband (as I had wondered to myself privately many times), "Do you ever wish that you could force moments like this to soak into your brain? Do you ever wish you could preserve this view with your eyes and take the vision with you?"

You see, I have an obsession for all things beautiful. Call me shallow, call me classy, I don't know, but I've always admired true beauty. And I've always wanted to be part of beauty by making it part of me, by keeping and storing its image in my head.

I've always gotten so frustrated, even as a child, when I'd see beautiful things and be unable to keep a clear, distinct memory of them at the front of my head. Sometimes I'd stand in front of a particularly glorious view while hiking or traveling or exploring, trying with all the might I could muster to force my brain to take a 3D picture and store it perfectly in my memories. But I never could. The sights, sounds, sensations, smells, view...all would fade away from memory eventually, and it seemed the harder I tried to capture them and make them stay, the more elusive they became.

So I stood in front of this tree, struggling with this same thing again, finally voicing my question to my husband, when I had the thought, "Maybe the trees can't be taken with you, because they stand on their own." The thought shocked me and made me take a step back. "Maybe they're not here to serve you. You're here because you chose to come see them."

Still shocked, I was stopped dead in my tracks. Of course! No wonder I'd been so frustrated in this lifelong endeavor of trying to capture beauty. Beauty doesn't exist here solely to please us or to become our pet. Beauty simply exists, and we can come visit it whenever we'd like, but it will exist nonetheless, whether we pay it any attention or not.

It was a futile endeavor to begin with, really. Me, standing before the trees, stubbornly trying to force them to enter my brain so I could keep them as the captivating, magical, memorable moment I often read about other people having. Me demanding that the format of the vision change, from real life to perfect memory, in order to fit who I am and what I want the moment to be.

Just like another person, the vision of the trees before me stood on its own. It made no requests of me, no demands of what I should do to enjoy it. And it certainly made no demands of the moment we were in, to be able to preserve the vision of me in its brain. (Trees obviously don't have brains, but you get the point.) These trees just stood there, in all their beauty and strength, as if to say, "Yep, I know I'm pretty and strong! I've worked hard on this. I'm so glad you've come to visit me! Isn't this nice." There was no obligation for the tree to turn the moment into anything magical or memorable. It was simply magical because it existed.

So next time I go and visit a moment that makes me want to store it in my brain forever, I'll greet it with a smile and a wink and say, "Hello there, magic. I've come to visit you! Thanks for coming to meet me in nature. I can't wait to learn my next lesson. Shall we enjoy this together?" And, just like a healthy relationship, the two of us will walk hand in hand, enjoying the moment, demanding nothing of each other, only inviting and allowing each to be our true selves, and cultivating appreciation through it all.

Beauty doesn't demand anything of you. It stands on its own, separate, a world apart. It's part of our experience and the full keeper of its own, all at the same time. Like a person who knows their worth, it stands and shares its gifts and beauty with the world, with no demand of how it should be compensated or validated in return. All it needs is to grow, and makes no other requests than that you let it. 

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