The truth about Carpe Diem

andrea-reiman-304108Nothing profound today. Not a controversy or plea for peace.

Just an observation the day after I added another year…

It seems as we get older, there’s more. We know more things, have more things, more memories — and more we’d like to forget. There’s just more.

And, jeepers, SO much more music.

Every single minute, hours of music are being composed, arranged, and produced. Some of it is… just WOW.

Lyricists pour their hearts right into mine. Composers spin melodies that take my breath away. As Christian musicians become more and more brave, we hear and sing about real people with real lives and real questions walking with Jesus. As secular music becomes more spiritual, we learn more about ourselves – how we are much more alike than different.

But, good golly, Miss Molly, those oldies. The ones attached to memories so vivid it almost hurts to hear them. Hurts in such a sweet way that with a single chorus I am reminded of just how full and remarkable my life has been.

Not long after my first husband Bill died, when the tears were still fresh and the wound so tender I felt as if I would bruise with a mere touch, I returned to Willow Creek Community Church with Laurie. My friend, Keith, was front row lead, organizing the production volunteers when mics were hand held and clunky monitors had to be hoisted onto the platform. Worship at Willow was and is such a big part of my memory, and I soaked up every minute as I sat with them in the front row.

When the vocal team walked on, I recognized the song by the introduction. I put my head back and took a deep, deep breath. My shoulders dropped as every muscle relaxed. But I wasn’t prepared for what happened next.

And then, as I heard the first words of Steven Curtis Chapman’s My Redeemer is Faithful and True, I crumpled into grief so deep I wasn’t sure I’d ever climb out. Grief shared by those of us in a special club I want no one to join. Grief combined with the promise that I would see Bill again in a better place.

I respond the same way every time I hear that song, transported right back to the front row at Willow where I more profoundly realized the precious truths of the good, good Father. Precious truths revealed through a simple melody, simple words.

There are so many other songs, both spiritual and secular, that snap me back to another time and place…

  • Sweet little Ana asking Where is he taking them? as Barbra Streisand sang Bring back all the memories
  • Hearing her little twangy voice sing And we were swangin’.
  • Home Free – a song of great loss after a time of great pain… at exactly the wrong, perfectly perfect right time.
  • Shouting at the car full of boys waiting next to us at the stoplight, What station do you have on? so we could tune into Roseanna one more time.
  • Doing a kick-line with Rene and Remelle to Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York at a concert in the park in New Jersey. (Not my fondest memory or finest moment. Like I said, some we’d like to forget).
  • Diligently practicing Pretty little thing, let me light your candle ’cause mama I’m sure hard to handle now, yessir’am. Practice, by the way, spent entirely in vain. (Tim calls me everytime he hears it in the car, doesn’t even say hello – just holds up his phone so I can hear that Black Crowes line. Ridiculous. And so heartwarming.)
  • Tears forming already, as I anticipate December 16, standing for the glorious Hallelujah Chorus.

…songs I don’t even think about or remember until I hear them again and wish I could put them in my pocket so I don’t forget.

But then that’s where it gets tricky.

The art of music is different. It’s not like visual art – a painting or photograph or sculpture, jewelry, scarf, handmade handbag, or basket.

When I hang a beautiful painting on the wall, or slide on a pair of Ana’s earrings, or pick up my Re:new handbag, I need only open my eyes or turn my head to see it. Still there. Always. See-able, touchable.

But music? I can’t just catch a glimpse and smile – like I do in my studio every day, surrounded by so many things I hold dear. The tunes I love don’t just sit around me, all at once, all the time.

No, music takes time. It’s beauty can be enjoyed only by extending our attention for the life of the song, the one playing right this minute. I can “save” hours of it on technology the size of a postage stamp. But I can enjoy only one song at a time, only while it is playing, only when I am listening.

The melody is fleeting, the notes and words like a hummingbird, gone as soon as they are played and spoken.

Just like this past year. And every other year. Minutes, hours, days, months… slipping by. Sometimes we notice them like favorite songs – savoring every moment. Sometimes, they are like all the favorite things around us, just sitting, hanging, stacked – waiting to be noticed.

I love those songs with so much heart and memory I feel I will burst. But at times, the peaceful instrumentals in the background give me comfort, just like the paintings and pottery we’ve collected through the years, scattered throughout our home.

I’ve long ago decided that expecting to savor every moment is expecting too much of anyone. I love the carpe diem philosophy, but I can only seize so much before I am overwhelmed, even with the most wonderful things of all. I like to live in the quiet moments as well as the exciting ones. 

Again, the pursuit of balance emerges.

My lovelies, yes – life is short, so we should eat dessert first. I’m all for it.

But let’s not forget those sweet little moments when there’s nothing to report, no journal entry to make, nothing to share on Facebook. Moments when we can do the dishes or walk to the coffee shop or scratch the dog’s ears.

Precious, fleeting moments of life when it’s just us and Jesus.


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