A moment to notice | Moment's Notice

 

Last updated 11/21/2019 at 10:22am



Moment n.

A moment is a particular point in time, a moment you remember forever. A moment is a short, but unspecified, amount of time. Moment also means "importance."

When I first started this column, the Beacon editor asked me to confirm that I had written the title correctly, “Moment’s Notice.” Yes, the singular and possessive use of “moment” was intentional, and no, it was not shorthand for the idiom, “at a moment’s notice,” although I can get ready quickly if it means an extra few minutes of sleep or potential for something interesting.

And as much as I appreciate the brilliance of jazz musicians, I was not paying homage to John Coltrane’s “Moment’s Notice.”

Actually, I utterly appreciated the insightful question as it highlighted exactly what the title intended – the specific importance of the moment, not the minute or the experience or the circumstance – the moment, a word that can carry as much impact as the moment that stays with you for the rest of your life, and most importantly when we stop long enough to recognize it.


Neuroscientists say that our mammal brains mark a memory when we stop to look around. Our brains literally create a distinct memory marker when we have time to review recent occurrences and note the important pieces.

The way the scientists explain it is that as we move through our day, we construct a cognitive map in our hippocampus (the brain creates an internal representation of what we are seeing), but when we pause to inspect our environment and acknowledge it, especially when we perceive positive outcomes or rewards, the moment imprints itself in the brain as a memory.

Recently, my husband and I celebrated our anniversary, and we returned to the place where we spent our honeymoon.

The spot is somewhat remote, was and is idyllic, and we passed the days on the tiny island doing much of the same as we had 25 years before – scuba diving, fly fishing, reading, hammocking (it should be a word), and enjoying cocktails, good food, and compelling conversation with other souls who seek places off-the-beaten-path.

One morning, the two of us were out fishing the flats (a Zen-like fly-fishing experience in 6 to 8 inches of crystal clear water where bonefish elude most who angle there). We were soon in the midst of a beautiful experience, with both of us catching a fish at the same time, appreciating each other in the fight and landing of the fish, and helping each other release the fish safely back to the sea.


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As we exchanged a kiss of congratulations, I recalled the moment when I realized this man loved me so many years ago, when we went on our first adventure together.

The memory may not seem like the most romantic in some eyes, but it encompassed all that enduring love represents – excitement, caring, empathy, laughter, and support.

On another particularly sunny morning, years earlier, we were fishing off the coast of a tiny island in Mexico. We were camping on a beach by a seafood shack and supplemented our rent by fishing with the property owner.

We came upon a school of barracuda, and both of us hooked one of these incredibly powerful, large aquatic beings, and fought hard to bring them in. Mine, unfortunately, was a bit more expressive as we attempted to remove the barbed hook from his mouth and, well, it hooked me back, with a treble-hook.

Now attached to my catch, I was now suddenly and very demonstrably in pain, and the only solution was to cut the line, release the barracuda, and leave the mass of fish to go to the hospital. It may not seem like much, but leaving a successful fishing spot is not something to be taken lightly, and to argue with the boat captain to do so, well, means even more.

To drive like a madman in our retrofitted Ford Bronco to a Mexican naval hospital, attempt to repeat my fading Spanish, and propose a solution to removing the three hooks attached to a lure in my hand, well, that all came across pretty significant to me.


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Perhaps my brain had no choice but to pause and note this as it occurred and to create a vibrant memory in my hippocampus (and a great story to tell), but my heart interpreted the cognitive map differently.

In that moment, it was the first time it took notice of the most important thing in my life – true love.

 

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