Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
I can remember three experiences in my lifetime that took my breath away. The first one was seven years ago when I was on my first trip with my then boyfriend, now husband. We were walking in Battery Park, NYC. We turned a corner and caught a glimpse of the Statute of Liberty. I had visited the monument years before, but because I wasn’t expecting to see it that day, it literally stopped me in my tracks gasping in delight. The fact that I was in the process of falling in love probably contributed to the sensation. Post script, we got married nine months later at the same restaurant we found that day walking in the park. Our vows exchanged overlooking the harbor and Lady Liberty.
It happened again three years ago when my son hit his first home run. Watching him race against the outfielder’s throw to slide into home plate was nothing short of spectacular. Than it happened once more on our trip to Oregon two weeks ago. The experience of having a snowball fight in July was completely unexpected. But it was the sight down the road that left me equally breathless. Crater Lake National Park is home to the deepest lake in the Western Hemisphere measuring 1949 feet down. On first glance, it seems you can almost peer to the bottom. Formed inside the collapsed caldera of a Volcano. It is a 33-mile drive around the melted snow filled wonder.
It seems both manmade achievements and mother nature’s creations can be a marvel if there is some element of surprise. Next month on my quest to be more childlike, the focus will shift from awareness to enthusiasm. So here is the paradox: Can you consciously increase the moments that steal your breath away and be surprised at the same time? Can you expect to be awed without expectations?
For me, the more I recognize beauty, the more I see it. The more aware I am of the accomplishments of others, the more accomplished people seem to come into my life and the more I strive to accomplish.
When my son was in first grade, he insisted that we take a nature walk every day before school. Considering I think I was born 10 minutes late and we are always looking for keys or homework or bread to pack a lunch in the morning, that took some persistence on his part. Our nature walk consisted of a one-minute walk through the landscaping in our backyard. But you know what? We always found something amazing. A nest with eggs. A huge snail moving at his own pace. A butterfly chrysalis. I don't know exactly when we stopped those walks. Maybe we will start again.
What takes your breath away?