My aunt Penny sent me a little poem in the mail today called, “Devotions of a Painter”. My favorite line was the following:
I am an elderly man in a straw hat
Who has set himself the task of praising God
For all this welter by setting out my paints
And getting as much truth as can be managed
Onto a small flat canvas.
I’m no painter (though at one point in about sixth grade I had such aspirations), but that line did cause me to think, oddly enough, of this blog, and why I keep it. It is my way of looking at all the “welter” – all this jumbling mass of things coming and going in my life – and scraping out of it the most precious parts. The parts that are there but might not always be seen with all the goings on surrounding them. The parts that become evident when a painter puts them down on his canvas.
I’ve been thinking so much about “moments” lately. Probably all of you have seen the recent Moments that Matter Most clip. If not, I’ll put it at the end of this post for any who want to watch it. I love the quotes in it:
“Moments are the molecules that make up eternity” – Elder Neal A. Maxwell
“It is not so much the major events as the small day-to-day decisions that map the course of our living.” – President Gordon B. Hinckley
It is just so obviously true, isn’t it? We all have big moments in our lives and those are often referred to as our “defining moments” and I don’t know. Maybe they are. But really our lives are mostly lived out and composed of millions of normal moments – good and bad that make up our every days. And we can choose, not just how to handle them, but which to focus on – which moments we want to be the ones that matter.
For me, right now, so many of those moments are filled with my little family members. Whether it is Mike teasing me that I am hiding my Dove ice-cream bars from him, and me insisting they are being hidden not from him, who is welcome to them, but from our small children who can’t fully appreciate a Dove ice-cream bar; to Jesse giving our hens horrid nightmares by calling, “Goodnight chickens! Goodnight chicken nuggets!” as I bring him in for bed; or running outside frantically shouting, “Dad?! Dad! Where are you?” when he sees our sprinklers come on because he assumes that means Mike is out working on them (as many of our sprinklers needed fixing this summer); to Daisy getting Penny down for a nap for me just like a tiny little mother; to Penny telling me various people – real and fictional – that she is “going to marry” all the time; to Abe and I joking about the gulf that exists between us because he doesn’t appreciate salad and ranch dressing like I do; to Goldie making goodbyes a small nightmare because she can’t ever quite bare to part and must say goodbye one hundred times and make sure hundreds of blown kisses are caught and no wave from the window is missed before I can ever make it out of the driveway to run a quick errand.
Those are my moments. I’ve heard people complain about the unreal worlds of blogs and facebook, etc. -- complain that they give people unrealistic views of life to compare to because everyone is recording trips and perfectly planned birthday parties and surprise presents from spouses. And I agree that we need to be very careful not to get blue or think somebody else has a life a million times better than our own, because people have trials, and there are also all the tiny moments of less joy in every day. In mine, kids are often asked hundreds of times to get dressed, everybody cries when I brush their hair, bedtime with three girls in one room is never as simple as “goodnight,” mess is constant, whining inevitable.
But when I think of little moments making up my existence, what I want to focus on, what I want to paint on my canvas, what I want to make absolutely sure I am grateful for and don’t forget -- or don’t simply miss because they are often seemingly insignificant -- are the tiny perfect parts of my day. The small bits of wonderfulness I get to experience at this stage of life raising kids and being here with them. And that is my purpose in recording so much of it. It is to force myself to see these things amidst all the waves and winds blowing about distracting me. It is to make sure I recognize and take joy in what I get to be living every single day . . . right now.