It should go without saying, but…
A few years ago, I got a DVR on my cable box so I could record the shows I might miss when I’m not home.
Full disclosure, I’m a bit of a TV junkie. From the X-files to Buffy to Angel to Supernatural, the plots and characters of television provide an escape for me, a way to relate to others, a chance to share a common bond.
In the early years, it was Jem and the Holograms, the Facts of Life, the Young Riders and MacGyver (the original).
I can still remember spending summers watching the Price is Right with my sister and pretending to be the contestants on the show. How our mother dealt with us racing around the basement, screaming at the top of our lungs because we’d made it out of “contestants row,” I’ll never understand.
In the early years, we had one television attached to an antenna on the top of the roof. The television had the old dial that allowed us to see, what? Maybe ten channels? Because the channels all came from different broadcast signals hitting the house from different directions, we had to turn the antenna in order for certain ones to come in clearer.
It was quite an experience being a child of the 80s, let me tell you.
It was Christmas-come-early the day our dad impulsed the purchase of our very-first VCR. Oh, the glory of being able to record and REWATCH Richard Dean Anderson as he used yet another paper clip to get himself out of a sticky situation, or re-live over and over the moment Jo fell for her college professor and learned that they weren’t really all that compatible.
Nostalgia. Where would I be without it?
Needless to say for a girl who grew up with an antenna and only ten channels, the ability to rewind live television felt like living in the Jetsons. Mind = blown.
Now, when I’m watching my favorite show and can’t exactly make out what one of the characters said, I simply push the rewind button and find out. Or when there’s a particularly touching moment or a great line I want to remember to talk to friends about, boom. Rewind button.
Sharon Carter’s memorial to her Aunt Peggy in Captain America: Civil War gets backed up pretty much every time it’s on my television. Ugh. What a great speech.
With all that in mind, I was on my way to work a while ago and in one of the yards I passed by I noticed a little girl walking up to a swing set being followed by a cute looking dog. Obviously the pup belonged to the family and it appeared to me that he was watching over the little girl as she played, doing his job protecting her.
It was damn near a Normal Rockwell painting come to life.
As I drove by, I thought to myself, oh let me rewind to watch that again.
No joke. That thought actually went through my head.
I’m not terribly proud of this moment. I’m sure my mother is not all that fond to read that, either.
In the car, now well-beyond the aforementioned adorable scene, I had to blink a few times to allow the whole thing to really take hold in my brain. Once I truly realized what I had just done, I had a pretty monumental epiphany.
Despite the fact that all this really goes without saying, I had to remind myself that for as much as I enjoy the rewind button on my television, life does NOT have that particular innovation.
Being a student of Eastern Philosophy and acupuncture for almost ten years now, I’ve heard a lot of talk about the importance of living in the moment and being present.
One of my very favorite quotes comes from Master Oogway in Kung Fu Panda. “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present.”
A lot of people can get tied up in the past, reliving nightmares and heartbreak over and over, picking apart every second, every word, rehashing how it could have gone differently. I’ve been guilty of that time and time again.
But the thing is, the past is done. It’s finished. There is no going back. We don’t have a Delorean to see some serious shit when it hits 88 miles per hour. Spending too much time there can really get a person stuck.
The same is true of the future. No one has a clue what’s going to happen. There is no predicting tomorrow. We can think if I just do this or say that, I can have an effect on the outcome. Being an overly analytical person, I have definitely done this one, too.
I think it has something to do with the ridiculous notion of being able to control, well…anything. I can control my reactions and responses, but that’s about it. The future, whatever it may be, really is, as Master Oogway said, a mystery.
With that in mind, we come back around to what really matters — the here and now. We can’t rewind it, we can’t predict it, so the only other option is to fully experience it.
Give your focus, your attention, your concentration to the present. You might be surprised at what you encounter.
I am a ghost tour guide in Gettysburg and last month, I took a group of middle school kids from Seattle, WA, out to try to scare them relatively shitless. It worked. They were awesome and a ton of fun and when they left, they were seriously worried about what might be waiting for them in their hotel room from the other side of the veil.
There was a moment, though, during the tales when a lightning bug buzzed into the center of the half-circle the kids had formed around me. Being from the west coast, they had never seen a lightning bug before.
Normally, on ghost tours I’m focused on the stories and what time it is and where I am because I know I have to get the group back on time to the buses. It really is a great part time job, but you do have to keep to a schedule.
But seeing the absolute awe on those kids’ faces gave me pause. For a minute, I let them watch the twinkling insect as it flickered around them. One of them tried to catch the bug and I said, “Go ahead, they don’t bite.”
It was a moment of purity, of true authenticity to witness young kids experience something like that for the first time. And I deliberately let it happen. I didn’t worry about the time or getting to my next story stop.
I’m glad I did because it was really neat to observe and be a part of that guilelessness.
The opportunity arose again a few weeks ago when I took two utterly adorable kittens to a local daycare as part of my full time job with an animal shelter. I talked to the children about the shelter and what we do. We told stories and I got to hear all about the kids and their animals and how one little girl believes that she is a rainbow superhero.
It really is a glorious world of random when you’re around kids five and younger.
When it was time for them to say hello to my kittens, I sat on a chair and they came up one by one. For that instant, I stopped looking at the clock and worrying about where I needed to be. Instead, I watched as each one of them stood beside me and very gently petted the kitten on my lap.
The little black-and-white feline actually started purring midway through the introductions. None of my cats at home would ever be that chill. This little guy was an amazing cat (needless to say he got adopted really quickly).
When one of the little girls leaned down and gave the kitten the softest of kisses on his head, I think my heart may have actually contracted in my chest.
It was a connection to child-like wonder and excitement and forgetting about my to-do list allowed me to truly enjoy it.
Following that visit, I had to stop by an office that helps the shelter and instead of bringing the kittens back to the shelter first, I took them along with me. Oh my word, did the employees love that. I swear I saw more people that worked there in just one hour than I have for an entire year.
I turned my brain away from everything waiting for me on my desk and just watched them all interact with those little squirts.
You know what I noticed? Their expressions mirrored the ones of the daycare kids — for a moment those adults became children again. Animals really do bring out the best in all of us and when you see that unadulterated joy, you can’t help but catch the feeling.
Imagine if I hadn’t been focused on all those seemingly small moments. What if I’d been paying more attention to my watch than what was happening around me? How sad to have missed out on sharing that kind of delight.
I can’t rewind life like I can the Captain America movies. If I miss something in the real world, then I miss it.
Maybe there’s a reason for that. Maybe that keeps us grounded, in the here-and-now, so that the best parts of life don’t pass us by.
How often are you distracted by where you have to be and what you have to do instead of engrossed in the moment? What could you be missing?
If you keep your eyes open and mind turned off to the endless chatter of “should haves” and “have to do’s,” you might be really charmed and grateful for what you get to see.
I love my rewind button for television, but when it comes to life, there’s no going back, so the here-and-now is where I want to stay.