We are still doing our pandemic photo purge. In the process, we unearthed old audio tapes. What a treasure trove. We found recordings from 1979. The tapes were made by my family and me. We sent them to each other while I studied in Spain.
Listening to the tapes stirs up lots of emotions. Deb and Doug sound so young. They sound so brave. Don sounds tender and loving. I hear my gratitude for their support and my eagerness for them to join me. My excitement is palpable as I share my experience of Spain. This period, of our family’s life, was full of meaningful moments. Old photos, movies and tapes start me thinking about moments of meaning.
Researchers say these qualities are present in deeply meaningful moments:
• feature people with whom we share an emotional closeness.
• contain challenging events, births, marriage, health issues, accidents.
• rarely involve career-related experiences.
After Life is a 1998 Japanese film that challenges us to discover a treasured moment. It is one of the most impactful movies I have ever watched. The premise is that newly departed individuals are greeted by social workers in a Limbo realm. They explain to the new arrivals that their assignment is to choose one memory they want to live in for eternity. The movie is filled with touching scenes as people review their lives and make sometimes surprising selections.
The night after viewing this movie I keep wondering what that moment would be for me. The choices in this movie were complex. You might assume they would be happy times. That element was sometimes present. However they often included sadness and joy, loss and discovery. What each had in common was rich emotional content.
What moment would I choose?
There are so many moments to consider in seventy-seven years of life; meeting Don, marriage, giving birth, losing all four of our parents, raising children, seeing them marry. Grandchildren! Although, Spain was life-changing. None of those moments are ones I want to dwell within for eternity.
My work is full of meaning. I recall clients who had breakthroughs in therapy. Women who made life-altering shifts during a Woman’s Circle. There are also magical moments that occur in each retreat. And as fulfilling as they are, I agree with the research. These moments are not where I want to spend eternity.
I am looking for a moment when external chatter fades away and the event fills my awareness.
One calls to me.
It is not spectacular. In fact, it is quite ordinary. I would choose the moment when Don and I fall asleep together. Our bodies nestled like spoons in a drawer. We breathe together. His arms around me. My spine snug against his chest. Warm. Safe.
It is more than the warmth of his body or the sweet sensation of breathing together. There is also a growing realization that fills me. These cherished moments will not be mine forever. That makes them even more precious.
Sorting through photos and discovering these tapes creates an opportunity for me to do a life review. The movie After Life offers a unique format with its probing question. “In what moment would you choose to live in for eternity?”
You might ask, “What is the point of doing this thought experiment?” It is unlikely that we will ever truly be faced with this dilemma.
Answering this gives us a window into what brings meaning to our days. The moments that we treasurer reflect what we value. There is a great boon in the process of discovering your answer. You too may be surprised. Our response can help us weather difficult times.
So now the question comes to you…
What moment would you choose to live in for eternity?