This book opens with a selection from Little House in the Big Woods. I remember reading these lines 30 years ago and coming upon them again made me realize the influence they have had on my philosophy of life.
When the fiddle had stopped singing Laura called out softly, "What are days of auld lang syne, Pa?"
"They are the days of a long time ago, Laura," Pa said. "Go to sleep, now."
But Laura lay awake a little while, listening to Pa's fiddle playing softly and to the lonely sound of the wind in the Big Woods. She looked at Pa sitting on the bench by the hearth, the firelight gleaming on the honey-brown fiddle. She looked at Ma, gently rocking and knitting.
She thought to herself, "This is now."
She was glad that the cozy house, and Pa and Ma and the firelight and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago.
For me this underscores the notion of cherishing the small moments in our lives. I can visualize Laura in her bed taking in her surroundings, listening to the comforting melodies issuing forth from Pa's fiddle, the warmth of her bed and the love of her family bringing warmth and safety.
There have been many times in my life where I have purposefully held on to moments such as this. As they unfold I consciously take inventory of each aspect.
I remember lying in the snow at twilight on a frigid March evening several years ago. The world around me was in turmoil due to the escalating terror threat color changes from the Department of Homeland Security and I went out with my oldest niece for a sleigh ride. We discovered a small ramp at the bottom of a hill and if one of us positioned ourselves carefully, the other could careen down the hill and jump over the prone body of the other. Oddly fun, potentially dangerous and utterly amusing. As I sprawled out on the cold surface waiting for her giggles to approach I took a moment. I saw the fading sun and the slow steady changes of light that comes with daylight's fading. I felt the frigid air change and warm as I breathed in through my nose and out from my mouth. I heard her heavy trudge up the hill as she pulled the sled behind her. I gazed upwards. Safe for the moment from the worries of terrorism and death.
I thought "This is now". And now could never be a long time ago.
Whatever was to happen, whatever was to come, I had this moment. Of course, time does pass. But I like to think that cherishing these glimpses of immortality or perfection give great purpose to our daily routines. As the song Seasons of Love from the Broadway musical Rent questions "how do you measure a year in the life? How about love?"
By now I have amassed quite a few such moments that sustain me when I feel overwhelmed. Most of them involve the time I spend with children, the true teachers. I am grateful.
I highly recommend the Little House book series. Give it a read!