Experience a moment. Now experience another one. Could you tell the difference between the two? My guess is that unless we are in motion, say, plummeting, careening, or catapulting from one stage of life to another, moments are indistinguishable. Even when we are in motion, moment to moment, the differences can be imperceptible, and we find ourselves needing to qualify moments to help us make sense of them. For instance, moments agonize, empower, frustrate, overwhelm, and energize, often simultaneously.
Said another way, we categorize moments as one thing or another in order to form a response to what is happening in the world around us. Sometimes the response is appropriate, e.g. raining outside, take an umbrella. Sometimes the response is inappropriate, e.g. miserable inside, take it out on everyone with whom you come into contact. Moments which we decide must never be forgotten have the power to change the future. At some point, it doesn’t matter what we could have done, only what we do next.
People, those we know and those we don’t, also get categorized. People are vulgar or silent, friendly or hostile, jerks or doormats. They make us angry or happy. They cause harm or give comfort. We are victor or victim, slayer or survivor, discoverer or destroyer, often sequentially, but we are also creators and stewards.
Places, too, are categorized as peaceful or volatile, wealthy or impoverished, harsh or welcoming. Cardinal directions lay it out for us – North or South, East or West – so that we don’t always realize when we’ve crossed the imaginary boundaries created to distinguish where we are from where we are going.
Moments, people, and places can be perceived as good or bad, but the good and the bad also have the power to inspire, cultivate, challenge, and enrich us beyond measure. We only have to decide that life is not an either or proposition. Cliché? Perhaps. But what if it is something more?