I recently had the opportunity to revisit one of my favorite childhood pastimes – something I hadn’t done in over a decade. I went roller skating. Was I taking Aiden for his first experience with wheels on his heels? No. Was I attending a birthday party for some friend’s child or chaperoning some other young person’s event? No. I was just reliving the good ol’ days with some coworkers and the nostalgia of it was overwhelming.
It was yet another reminder to appreciate things as they are happening and not as we look back wistfully in the rare opportunities that we have to relive them. Although I loved roller skating as a child and even as a teenager, I don’t think I ever slowed those wheels down long enough to savor the experience and recognize that I wouldn’t be able to do it forever. I’m certainly not saying that we should take every happy, wonderful moment full of innocence and joy and make it serious, sober, and appreciative. But rather that we should learn to take mental snapshots. We are all so very good at taking digital photos these days – capturing flat, visual representations of the things we experience. But there is so much more to those memories. There are smells, tastes, sounds, feels, emotions, thoughts . . . all connected in an intricate web of vitality. And our minds are capable of cataloging all of it – if we would just take a moment to breathe and remind ourselves to remember. Tell ourselves in a fraction of a second, “This is good!”
As I looked around the rink at all of the other skaters, most of them half my age, I found myself wondering how many of them would remember. The twelve-year-old boyfriend and girlfriend with matching T-shirts skating hand in hand in countless circles. The new recruit to the roller derby team, getting a strong sense of her stride. The flamboyantly gay twenty-something spinning pirouettes at each turn and squealing with delight, not caring what anyone else thought of him. The middle-aged, excessively bearded beginner skating back and forth in the center at a painstaking pace, trying to prove that you can teach and old dog new tricks. The six-year-old little girl with white skates just like mine who put my moves to shame. Will all of these people find themselves in this spot a decade later trying to pull the cobwebs off of these memories? Or will these moments flood back with a vivid force because they LIVED them now? I am very glad I took the opportunity to experience this small part of my past again. And this time I drank it in deeply and will not easily forget.
I recently saw two kids twirling around each other with rollerblades, and was reminded of the days I used to skate down our local hilly road with my sisters. Perhaps I should buy a pair and consider blading to work? It would keep me fitter than the bus.