Instead of stressing out in attempts to create magical, Hallmark, quality time experiences with your children, focus instead on finding ‘moments between moments’ to savor. On a snowy Saturday night when my son John was a sophomore in high school, I experienced one such moment. His buddies were all over watching a football game that ended at 10:30. They asked me to drive them to their friend’s hockey game that began at 11PM; that’s right, 11 PM! My initial thought was its 11 o’clock at night, there’s 3 inches of snow already on the ground, and I’m tired. But I smiled and said, “Sure” and off we went. And I am so glad I relented, because we had a blast on the ride there and back. I put on some tunes and they sang along loudly and out of key. There was much conversation about girls and who liked who. The boys did what teens often do on such car rides; they acted as if I wasn’t even there. It was an unplanned, spontaneous moment I will never forget.
I heard the expression moments between moments in an article by Ryan Holiday where he relates a story about his meeting with Seattle Seahawks football coach Pete Carroll. Holiday asked the coach how he managed to stay sane in such a demanding, chaotic work environment, and Carroll responded, “You have to find the moments between the moments.” Author Jeff Goins uses the term in-between moments to describe the need to slow down and let ourselves be present for the unsung moments of life. These in-between moments make up the vast majority of our lives, yet most people find no value in them at all as they rush impatiently from one experience to the next.
I love spending afternoons at the lake during our summer camp weeks, but I also appreciate the little moments associated with these times. I have so many beautiful memories from the walk to and from the lake. One night years ago I was walking up from the lake with a small group of campers when we stopped to lay down on the ground and star gaze for a few minutes. We all made a wish as we looked at the stars and claimed one of the stars in the big dipper as “our star”. Twenty years later we all still remember that moment fondly, and still point out the star every time we walk up that hill. This kind of experience of spontaneous fun or closeness exemplifies moments between moments.
Instead of only focusing on the big moments of life like birthday parties, graduations, anniversaries, or weddings, cultivate the mindful awareness of the more subtle but fulfilling moments between the moments that comprise the vast majority of our existence. Savor these moments and the joy that they bring.