My last post mentioned that I believe friendship is built in the little moments; the ones that pass by with barely a thought.  Recently, I have noted that, in addition to friendships being built, life is lived  – and sometimes re-lived, in the little moments.  I call them “Gateway Moments”.

You all know what I mean.  Those little things – THAT song comes on the radio, or that aroma or smell, the movie quote, the look on someone’s face, the taste of a certain food – and suddenly, you are transported to some other place, to some other time – your first boyfriend, your first kiss, your first day of high school – or college, your wedding day, the day you got divorced, the day(s) your children were born.  The list goes on and on…

Little River Band’s “Time for a Cool Change”, and anything by Journey, have me returning to the summer after 7th grade.  I can see myself lying on my bedroom floor; I can feel the varied textures of each carpet sample my mother and I carefully tacked down one at a time to create the patchwork that was my floor.  We were moving from Michigan to Florida and would be spending FOREVER (in my 13-year old mind) in the car following the moving van my uncles were driving.  I spent many hours lying on the floor recording albums (yes, the vinyl variety) to cassette tapes for the trip. I can smell the leather of my dad’s saddle over the sawhorse in the corner. I can still taste the salty tears which I couldn’t seem to stop.  I didn’t want to go.

Aromas and odors often take me other places – my grandmother’s house, my old school, my dad’s mill.  Cake batter has an odd fascination for me – and goes both ways; the aroma sometimes causes me to remember – but remembering sometimes causes me to crave the flavor.  Oddly, these memories are often flavor-specific.  My strongest memories are associated with vanilla and cherry cake batter.

Small actions can bring up memories of deep emotion, as well.  Yesterday, I was spreading butter on a waffle, which I have probably done hundreds of times without thinking, but yesterday I was transported 15 years into the past – and the memory of someone else who knew I like butter in EVERY square of my waffles. I smiled at the memory. It also brought to mind a gut-wrenching, heart-breaking trip to the bus depot and more tears than I have ever shed – before or since.

But we can’t live in those memories; they are only the building blocks of the person we have become.  I have become.  And they are only part of the story.  We often remember only the good – or only the bad of a situation when we view it in retrospect.  I think reminiscense is important and to be cherished and regret should be fleeting and educational.

I saw a quote today that spurred me to write out these thoughts.  The quote speaks of those who have struggled and then crawled out of the depths. the last line sums up my the rest – and my view of life:

Beautiful people do not just happen. – Elizabeth Kohler Ros

They don’t.  We don’t.  I haven’t.  We are all beautiful.  Sometimes, I think it takes an encounter with one of these Gateway Moments to reveal to ourselves the distance we’ve come, the obstacles which we’ve overcome, and the fortitude which we have built to meet the challenges yet to come. To realize that there is beauty, and grace, in the struggle.

The only person you have to be better than is the person you were yesterday – unknown

We can use these glimpses into the past to help us judge our own progress down our path, to ask ourselves if we are better than we were yesterday.  We could like what we see, the progress we’ve made.  If we don’t, then it might be time for a course correction.  Savor the journey for whatever we decide is but another step along our path and has the potential to become a future Gateway Moment.

What are some of your Gateway Moments?

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