At a stop sign on the way to work this morning, I noticed a picture-perfect moment: behind a fenced field, the moon getting ready to set behind the hills in the distance. At times like this I usually think, “Wow, that’s amazingly beautiful. I wish I could capture that scene,” yet I keep driving because I am focused on getting somewhere and getting something done.  Then, in a split second, as I rounded the corner, I made an uncharacteristically impromptu decision. I slammed on the brakes and pulled off to the (wrong) side of the road so that I could jump out, grab the camera that I just happened to have in the back of the car, and snap a picture. What amazed me perhaps more than the beauty of the scene was that, in the few seconds that had passed, the moon had almost disappeared. At the stop sign it had been in full view above the mountains. By the time I got out of the car and grabbed the camera, it was half gone. In less than a minute I watched the moon disappear.
       This triggered an introspective moment. I had previously been in a rather tense mood. I was running late. Things had just gone wrong at every turn. I was ready to throw in the towel and call it a day…and it was only six in the morning. After watching the fleeting moment pass, it dawned on me that, had I not been running late, I would have completely missed this moment. Yet I was running late, and I did get to enjoy it—because I took the time to enjoy it. How often, I thought, do I overlook these moments instead of allowing them to improve my life? Yet in less than a minute, I was able to do a complete 180 attitude adjustment.
       How many times a day do we miss those “perfect moments”? It’s way too easy—both in our everyday lives and in our vacation time—to get caught up in check lists and time schedules. We make plans, but forget to leave time for discovery and inspiration, two of the most important elements of life in general. I can’t count how many times I have taken the exact same route to work in the morning and have overlooked the simple pleasures of the scenery around me. There have also been countless times when I have noticed the fresh layer of snow on the giant blue mountain looming at the end of the road in front of me or the vibrant orange, red, and yellow leaves of the vines growing along the side of the road (a rare sight when you live in the desert)…I noticed them, but did nothing about it. Sure, I thought, “Wow, that’s amazingly beautiful,” but I never did anything about it. Until today.
       Today I captured a moment. And it truly was a moment. Had I pulled into the parking lot instead of off to the side of the road, I would have missed it. Had I been on time, I would have missed it. Had I taken more time try and get organized, I would have missed it. Call it fate, call it the right place at the right time, call it whatever you want, but we all have these moments more than we realize because we are too caught up in what we are “supposed to be doing” to enjoy what we really are doing…especially with our families.
       My nephew, his wife, and their little baby girl moved in with me a year or so ago. In just over a year, that baby has grown up into a little girl. When they first moved in we were worried about her learning to crawl on the hard cement floors…then suddenly we were worried about her hitting her eyes on the corners of the coffee table as she toddled around. Now we’re worried about her sneaking out the doors that she can open and wandering off down the street. Just like the moon disappeared behind the mountain in less than a minute, our families grow and change in the blink of an eye. We need to make sure that we don’t overlook the moments that we have with them. We need to enjoy each of the moments and allow them to improve our lives.
       Sometimes we have rough spots. That’s life. We have the responsibility to decide what to do with them and how to handle them. This past weekend at church, one of the speakers made the comment that, he believes, marriage is supposed to be hard because anything with such a great reward is going to require great effort. While I might be the old spinster aunt who knows nothing about marriage, I do know about relationships. I have been able to sit back and watch the marriages around me, watch the parents and children, the siblings…and in each relationship there is a common thread—the fleeting moment where those involved can (a) choose to have narrow vision and stay overly focused on the “point,”(b) simply drive on and hope they will remember it later, or (c)  pull off the side of the side of the road to truly enjoy the moment and do something about it, allowing it to change your life for the better. The way we respond to the moments determines the type of lives we live.
       Within our own families—whether it be spouses, siblings, children, parents, or the extended family of close friends—we need to be aware of the individual moments we see. The good moments are easy to take and enjoy; it’s the hard/painful/difficulty moments that take tweaking. Even painful moments can be made beautiful—think of the haunting beauty of pictures that capture the agony of defeat, the sorrow of loss, the fire of anger. While the emotions themselves can, if handled incorrectly, can be harmful, they can also, if handled correctly, create “picture perfect” moments that can strengthen relationships…it’s all in what we choose to do with the moment.
       At this moment, as an English teacher, I should try to flesh out the analogy that I have drawn. However, there is a two-year-old begging me to, “C’mere, c’mere, c’mere,”  as she beckons with her little hand, pulling on my arm. Let me, instead of focusing on the point, create a picture perfect ending by signing off and enjoying the moment—even if it may not be what I had planned, even if it may interfere with my ideas of what I “need” to accomplish tonight—and go sing along with Mary Poppins and the two-year-old (because the only thing that can beat a moonset over a glowing mountain is a two-year-old singing “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”). After all, all too quickly the moon sets behind the mountain—and I’ll never get the chance to see that same scene again.