Suspended: Mindful Moments, Moving, and a Memory Grave

Suspended: Mindful Moments, Moving, and a Memory Grave

Last post I explained the Air Force is moving me and that I’m moving on from this era of my life.

On Friday everything got packed and loaded into a moving truck. Once all the noise and chaos was over, I stood in an empty house. I thought about the great memories I had there, like remodeling it with my parents, hanging out with friends, and simply just laying on the couch or sitting outside. I closed my eyes and put myself in the place of a few snapshots I remember vividly, most were somewhat significant to me or interesting and some were unextraordinary. The unextraordinary snapshots were simple, they were snapshots of dead time in my life, where I lived in flow — the pieces of time suspended between more notable things. I’d think about watching TV, sitting in the backyard, or laying in my bed looking out the window. Most of our days are filled with this space, driving to work, chit-chatting with people at work, cooking food, hours of screen time a day, or randomly surfing the internet. Over a lifetime I think they all add up to be the majority of our moments. 

While I stood with my eyes closed, I couldn’t necessarily remember specifics of that suspension of time between more notable things. I could put myself on the couch but I don’t remember specific things I watched or scrolled. I don’t remember the things my friends and I said to each other over the last year and a half in the flight room but I can picture us all there sitting, talking, (stressed, tired,) and laughing, but aside from very few exceptions, I don’t have any more detail than that. 

This made me think of the thought experiment I wrote about a few weeks ago: "How many days pass you by that you could take or leave? When nothing really happened?"- A Fighters Heart by Sam Sheridan. I think for most people, there are more days where nothing really happens than things that we'd rather take or leave. And that's why I think our life is made by the days that nothing really happens. The quality and personal meaning we have in our life is built and pursued in those days. Is it also built in the suspension?

Anyways, not remembering any more detail annoyed me. I obviously knew I wouldn’t be able to remember even close to everything, but it was annoying that I couldn’t remember most of the fun moments or laughs or conversations with friends. I couldn’t remember the specifics I just know they happened. It was all the things that would end up in the three best parts of my day everyday. But even at the end of one day, I’m not capable of remembering or even paying attention to all my moments. 

I like to think that I’m intentional about living my life. I’m not always present, but I’m intentional about appreciating the moments and that takes both a mindfulness of the moment and a macro awareness of how wonderful it is to be alive and in this shade of life. In order to appreciate the good times while I’m going through them, I have to both recognize I’m in great times — mindful of my moments, and have the ability to take a step back and recognize that this is a wonderful time in my life — macro awareness.

So, I try to be intentional about appreciating my life, during the day, and in the moments that I’m now forgetting and know I will forget. And one reason I’m even intentional about appreciating them is precisely because I won’t remember them all at the end of the day, month, year, era, or my life. Once again, its the finiteness of the moment which shines through to provide meaning and urgency in appreciating it. Not only will I not get these moments back but I most likely won’t remember them… they’re just momentarily fleeting forever. 

So I first get bummed I can’t remember much, then I eventually remember that I was intentional about appreciating the journey even if I can’t remember it. Despite all of this, I was still feeling uneasy about all the moments, micro-adventures, and suspension going to what I called in the last post, a memory grave. I felt this way until I visited my grandmother at the hospital. I brought up this feeling of the memory grave and feeling like I was disrespecting the moments and micro-adventures because I couldn’t remember them. I asked her what she’d been thinking about while in the hospital and she brought up some wonderful memories and periods of her life, and through listening to her response, it dawned on me that the distinction I think I’m after is between remembering and appreciating. Just because I don’t remember something doesn’t mean I’m disrespecting it, as long as I appreciated it. So appreciating the moments rids me of the need to remember everything and also calms me when I don’t. 

So, a memory grave isn’t a bad thing I guess… and recognizing it helps me be intentional about appreciating my life in the micro and macro. This saves me from feeling helpless when I can’t remember everything and eases the emotional turmoil that bubbles up in the suspension that is a move.

How do you deal with moving on from an era of your life? How do you frame it?

See you in two weeks. 

’Til our last breath, 

James Kiesewetter


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