I just finished reading Gretchen Rubin’s 2012 book Happier at Home, which chronicles her months-long quest to find joy and greater satisfaction in everyday moments and familiar places.
Firstly, I loved it and will probably re-read it immediately (must remember to renew as is a library book!). More importantly, it was the right book for me to read at this moment. I don’t think I could’ve found better reading material for the mindset that I’ve been in these past few months. Cultivating a home that feels like a sanctuary, remembering to pause and take in moments, especially with one’s children, practicing patience with and demonstrating love toward one’s spouse or partner—these have all been so prominent in my mind lately.
The book ends (not really a spoiler alert):
As I walked up the steps to my building on that spring afternooon, and looked up at the windows of my little apartment in the big city, I reminded myself, “Now is now.” And I know what the child Laura [Ingalls Wilder, referenced previously] did not yet know. “Now is now, and now is already a long time ago.”
As I turned the key and pushed open the front door, as I crossed the threshold, I thought how breathtaking, how fleeting, how precious was my ordinary day. Now is now. Here is my treasure.
And oh, how I feel that.
I’ve spent the latter half of 2018 reassembling the family that I spent my twenties putting together. It was dismantled in a season of angst five years ago, but through grace and second chances, I’ve been able to get it back—in a way.
Five years is a long time for adults. Scott and I have both changed dramatically during the time we were apart, and for the better. But five years is massive for children. When we last left off, we had an almost-teenager, a fourth-grader, and a preschooler. We’ve now got an almost-adult who just finished high school, a sophomore, and a fifth-grader. Just as we’re not entirely the same adults, they are not entirely the same children. So much has changed, but the heart of who we are is still there.
It’s made the past feel especially precious—the silly photos, the children’s drawings, the snippets of everyday life that I blogged about here (and I’m so grateful I did!). My love for nostalgia has always been strong, but now it’s almost overwhelming. I find myself looking at pictures from 12 or 13 years ago and poring over the details in the background: furniture in our apartments, notes on the refrigerator, books on shelves, artifacts in the girls’ childhood bedrooms. All of it is so mundane, and at the moment it didn’t seem particularly noteworthy. My life was filled with sippy cups, marker-scrawled portraits, so many toys. But now, my god, I have such fondness for these things. I would give anything to revisit these moments and places to just observe.
But now, as it was then, is always slipping away. Now is a moment I’m already remembering somewhere in the future. Now is already a long time ago.
It’s a poignant reminder to soak in these now moments. To make the memories (and to document them). To delight in the everyday happenings, the used-daily objects, the silly sayings, the friendships, the expressions of love and affection. These are the moments that comprise our lives.