I just finished watching the movie STAND BY ME with my mom, & it was HAWESOME! Roommate Alix misled me by saying that I’d be traumatized when I got to the end, because for some reason, she remembers one of the kids being run over by a train (never happened). So while I was watching, I kept waiting for something reminiscent of the death of Chris O’Donnell’s character in FRIED GREEN TOMATOES. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised when the movie ended & I hadn’t at any point melted into uncontrollable sobs.
Overall, I DELIGHTED in the story, but of course some parts of it meant more to me than other parts. The thing that struck me most about the movie was the conclusion our narrator reaches at the end.
“I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anybody?”
This line haunted me for a bit. I think a lot of people indulge in the illusion that things of the past were somehow better… that there’s something inherently more EXCELLENT about being young than there is about being older. But I reject that notion. I think that kids are better at “living in the moment.” Of course the idea of “living in the moment” has become ridiculously cliche, & I rarely understand what people mean by that… Sometimes I think they mean that not thinking about other things is living in the moment – not focusing on the past or the future, but on the now. However, I think there’s more to it than that. I think “living in the moment” has more to do with being invested in the moment. There are a lot of times in life that don’t seem important, so we don’t invest. They seem like fillers between BIG things. Yet, those so-called BIG things are ambiguous & arbitrary. Are the BIG things the events that you’d put in your autobiography if you were to write one? Are they the things that impact the path you’re on or maybe your emotional state? I don’t know. I tend to think that those moments we are most invested in are the BIGGEST moments. When I sell myself completely on a moment, I remember that moment. I cherish that moment. It doesn’t matter if the moment was breakfast with my sis or playing anklebones in Mongolia or a phone conversation with my Nanny, or sitting at the computer blogging.
Ultimately, I think kids are better investors than adults are. In the movie, if the moment was Gordie’s, the other kids invested in his moment. They stood by him. They gave themselves over to his moment. If the moment was their own, they invested. They invested indiscriminately, which is MAGICAL. And it’s what makes 12-year-old friendships seem MAGICAL.
As an adult, I’ve actually spent time thinking about which moments to be in, & which moments I’m going to rest in. I know it sounds stupid, but I’ve convinced myself that I have certain limits, & that people should not expect me to always give myself over. I prioritized, which seems wonderfully practical. I even set aside time to check out completely. Generally, I play video games or watch tv during these times, but aren’t even video games more fun when we’re invested?
I remember the very first time I beat the game KOTOR. It was EPIC & LEGENDARY, & I think it took me something like 100 hrs to finish (I know. I know. DON’T JUDGE!). I was running around the Star Forge trying to find Malak & save the Republic until 8:00 a.m. that morning. I did not pull even 1 all-nighter during all of my time in college… but I did pull one in order to beat a video game (which is what makes me a true gamer, even if I’m REALLY out of touch with nearly all games that came out after KOTOR 2).
I know that my little KOTOR anecdote seems stupid, but I LOVE THAT GAME, & I think the reason I love the game is that I invested. Prior to that, I’d not enjoyed gaming since SONIC the hedgehog #2. It was on Sega, so you couldn’t save your game. You just had to play as long as you could, then turn off the tv & walk away (sometimes with the game paused & the SEGA still on – hoping Mom wouldn’t turn it off & lose all the work you’d done). Because of the no-save problem, I was invested in Sonic. I also invested in Sonic, because I didn’t get to play all the time. My parents limited my gaming time, so the hour or so I did get to play was REALLY SPECIAL.
Now, just think… what if I invested more in life moments. What if I invested more in those breakfasts with sis & phone calls with Nanny. Kids do that. And maybe you could argue that kids don’t need down time like adults do, because we need the coping mechanism. Maybe that’s true. But maybe we wouldn’t need so many coping mechanisms if we’d just push all-in all the time. Maybe the workday wouldn’t be so draining if invested in the work day instead of using that time to prepare for the after-work stuff. I don’t know if all of these thoughts are really valid, but I’m going to give investing a try.
Here’s to pushing all in, all the time.