My husband and I were driving through northern Wisconsin this past week when we spotted an albino doe. We stopped to watch it and talked about the other times we’d seen albino deer. We recalled the exact locations, Palmer and Sand Lake, and details. One time we actually saw two albino does walking together. Each appeared to be the mother of a normal colored fawn.
Moments that bring up vivid images and details from the past are what some have titled “frozen moments.” Those moments can be based on a tragedy, great joy, something humorous, or another emotion. They can be personal or global, meaning we share them with the world.
Travel often creates frozen moments. Complete this sentence. “I’ll never forget traveling to ________________ where I _______________________.” Travel memories can be as exotic as snorkeling in Hawaii and seeing schools of colorful fish, coral, and a sea turtle. They can be as memorable as viewing Yellowstone’s buffalo, geysers, and bizarre mud-pots. Or they can be as unpleasant as traveling on a cruise where high seas made you hang out more by the bathroom than the cocktail bar.
How would you complete this sentence? “I’ll never forget the painful moment when__________.” Coming to my mind was the time I was exploring a beaver lodge and suddenly experienced intense pinpricks of pain. Ground bees were stinging my arms and legs. My husband heard my screams and thought a bear had attacked.
Complete the sentence “Even though it’s stupid, I still smile when I remember_________________________.” I thought back to a silly memory. I was hiking with a group on Isle Royale, an island in Lake Superior. The leader commented, “Isn’t it strange how we can hike through pockets of sweet-smelling pines and then through a pocket that smells, well, bad?” I noticed the girl just ahead of him stifle a laugh. Later she told me she’d been farting.
Our children and grandchildren often create frozen moments. These can be sweet memories of cuddling, something special like “fairy hunting” in the moonlight, or an incident like a temper tantrum that you wish you didn’t remember.
Frozen moments don’t need to be major events. They can be simple gestures. One that comes to mind is the spring when I was around 8 years old. My father, who normally was busy with work, gardening, or off hunting or fishing, took a moment to call me over to our incubator. He pulled an egg out, shut off the lights and turned on his homemade candler. The duck eggs had been in the hatchery for only a few days, but when backlit, we could see the embryo’s developing blood vessels and the pulsing heart.
When the ducklings were close to hatching, we again shared a moment. He pulled an egg out of the incubator and held it to my ear. I heard movement and then—wonder of all wonders—peeping! A frozen moment in time. This memory is surely the main reason I delight in hatching eggs and have done so for many years.
Our lives are a combination of memorable experiences and moments that cover a range of emotions. Our reactions to those moments and the memories we hold onto define our character. They are the pulsing heart of who we are.