Making the Most of Moments

Time is the school in which we learnDelmore Schwartz[1]

Time has peculiar properties.  It flies when you’re having fun and slows down when you’re yearning for summer vacation.  During this pandemic-year, I have found myself frequently confused by the odd passing of time.  This, in part, is due to the reduction in human-to-human contact many of us have endured.  Ironically, one root translation of ‘pandemic’ is ‘all of the people’[2] and this ‘shared experience’ has sometimes driven us apart.  However, our time together is crucial in supporting memory-making moments.  Without memories, how do we mark time?  Without memories, how do we learn?

The pandemic has impacted each of us in different ways, but there is probably a widely shared sentiment hoping for the end of this ordeal.  I have found myself thinking ‘After the pandemic, I’m going to (fill in the blank).’  I’m probably not alone.  However, as we come to the end of a school year, I’ve started to reflect on the lost opportunity that comes from ‘fast-forwarding’ through any stretch of time.  For each of us, this year has had ups and downs, and if we are not intentional we will forget the good moments.[3]  These are the moments shared with members of your family, dorm, team, class, troupe, and ensemble — the moments when you weren’t necessarily in a rush and could unhurriedly work toward a common goal or simply enjoy each other’s company.  These are the times when our learning is the richest, when we learn how to consider, cooperate, and create.  Perhaps most importantly, we learn about each other and what it means to be human.  If approached with a deliberate and mindful manner, this learning can occur pandemic or not.

The ‘long moment’ of the school year has been assembled from the multitude of ‘mini-moments’ we’ve spent with each other.  Many good accomplishments this year have been due to a community-wide effort, which has led to some unexpected, but valuable, learning and memories.  I’ll close with some words from the self-proclaimed greatest, Muhammad Ali, “I have learned to live my life one step, one breath, and one moment at a time, but it was a long road.  I set out on a journey of love, seeking truth, peace and understanding.  I am still learning.”[4]

Parting question:

  • What is something that has happened this year that you really want to remember?

 

Written by Dr. Ivory Hills

 

 

[1] This is a line from the most excellent poem “Calmly We Walk Through This April’s Day”, which can be found here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/42633/calmly-we-walk-through-this-aprils-day (accessed May 3, 2021).  Interestingly, the final couplet has a particularly special meaning to the chemists out there.

[2] See the OED: https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/136746?redirectedFrom=pandemic#eid

[3] I encourage you to read more about the asymmetry of pain and pleasure as described in the Nobel Prize winning Prospect theory, by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prospect_theory (accessed May 3, 2021)

[4] Many sources attribute this to Muhammad Ali.  One of them is: https://www.azquotes.com/quote/611804

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