So - I wanna laugh while the laughin' is easy
I wanna cry when it makes it worthwhile
I may never pass this way again
Seals and Crofts
Sitting high up in the mountains of Costa Rica today I looked around and took it all in. Watching children kick soccer balls on abandoned roads high up in green mountains, I could actually feel a memory being created that I knew I would remember for the rest of my life. This is the nature of a peak experience. We have billions of experiences in our lives, and perhaps 10 of these moments will truly etch permanent pictures in our heads so clearly that we can remember every smell, every sound, and every emotion.
As powerful as these memories are, they also come with a kind of melancholy. So many times when we travel we swear we’ll get back to a place that touched our hearts, but in reality this is never truly possible. As Heraclitus said, “No man can step into the same river twice, because he is not the same man, and it is not the same river.” This is kind of akin to having the most wonderful meal of your life and then coming back to the restaurant a second time, it’s the same food in the same place, but somehow everything is a little less dazzling.
This is the tantalizing part of these kinds of moments. We somehow glimpse something that is magic and we want to feel a whole lot more of it. But even as we are in the middle of it, a part of us can feel the moment disappearing. Perhaps we even contemplate in these moments how a part of ourselves is receding from reality into memory. G.K Chesterton said “The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.” I think this is how we come to appreciate that the time we have has meaning. By contemplating it’s impermanence we realize that we have been blessed for a fleeting moment with pure universal awareness.
So I guess the point I want to make here is to try and live our lives with gratitude when these moments do chose to present themselves. Words and pictures can freeze memories forever, but the real permanent snapshots of our lives happen on an emotional level, when all of our joy and sadness seem to fuse with the place we’re at into a mystical kind of energy. That’s what I experienced today and I am eternally grateful for the day. Somehow I am drained, and I think it just kind of what happens as we have to come back to waking life after moving however so sparingly onto another plane of understanding.
9 years ago