The Trouble With Repeating Moments

You only get one shot. Embrace it.

This has been a recurring theme in my life lately. Recalling an unforgettable moment and wanting to repeat it just as it was then. I can have the tools in place (notepad, pen, great book, music, maybe headphones), the free time — even the lighting and temperature are spot on, but I just can’t get the same results. Why is that?

Every moment is unique in our lives, and as such, it’s important we show up for all of them, whatever they may bring.

My Glorious Moment

Just after my sister moved out again upon returning to old addictions and other behaviors I couldn’t support, and just after I discovered that the man I believed I cared deeply for didn’t want to take a chance on me — I’m talking double heartbreak here — I began my healing process utterly alone on a gloomy Sunday in January.

I’m using loaded language here. Yes, it was gloomy. But there was something almost supportive about it. I felt permitted to be inside all day — the time was my time to be in my sacred space, all my own, once again.

When I say utterly alone, while this does mean without my sister and without this potential love (what’s the saying? Bad habits die hard? I think I finally killed this one, but it was a grand learning lesson, nonetheless), I also mean without any phone, cell phone, email, TV, Netflix, YouTube, or any Internet at all (try it!). My one exception was music through a digital device, but that’s my foreplay for writing and a nice reading companion when the tracks are right.

During this day, I woke up when the sun nudged me to. I smoothed out the covers on my bed. I drank some water with a squeeze of lemon. I patiently practiced an hour-long meditation and returned feeling energetic and grounded.

I ate a glorious breakfast of mixed fresh fruit, topped with Greek yogurt, oats, walnuts, slivered almonds, chia seeds, coconut flakes, and a drizzle of honey. Mmm… I ate slowly, enjoying every bite. I made myself a café au lait and sipped as I read from my favorite book of poetry, Actual Air. I wrote poetry. Just lines and thoughts, but they felt good, and they flowed naturally. I moved to sparkling water, I got up and cleaned a little, I ate a salad already prepared in the refrigerator for lunch. I sat down to more writing, just free association. I read more. I drank tea. I wrote, I read, I listened to music.

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I lovingly cooked a healthy dinner, and I ate that with patience, as well. Before bed, I was extra slow with my self-care: the brushing and flossing of my teeth and washing of my face, the moisturizing. I read a little before bed, I did a little meditation, and fell to sleep soundly.

It was the beginning of my path to healing from what felt like my wide-open heart had been socked in its stomach.

Or maybe it felt more like my heart had fallen through the floor of my chest and was lodged somewhere in my own stomach.

This day would go down in my history, and I knew somewhere deep inside me that all of these changes, as painful as they seemed, were a part of the bricklaying of a promising road meant for my steps alone.

My Glorious Moment (ahem) Again – The Sequel

The problem came the following weekend. It was Sunday. I slept in. I shut off all of my electronics. I made and ate food. OK. I sat to write, meh. I sat to read, yawn. I got up and walked around and tried to search for the feeling. Maybe it had rolled under the couch along with most of my pens? I took a break from it all, went out to run some errands. Tried to stay peaceful, returned home. Decided home was not where said feeling was, but perhaps I could locate it at the coffee shop. Drove there with iPad and book. Wrote a little, surfed the Web, checked my email, made some phone calls. Coffee got cold quickly. Where did my goddamned beautiful feeling go?

Ahh… therein lies the problem. Sequels are never as good, are they?

If It Didn’t Work the First Hundred Times…

That was just one example of a moment I adored so much, I wanted a repeat. Here’s another grand example in my recent life: While on a “break” during what would become a very brief, though generally enjoyable relationship, I had a weeklong breakthrough with regard to myself. I started working on a business and I started writing a book, even established a routine for it — both of these while under crazy deadlines at work. I suddenly felt this much stronger, bolder version of me begin to crack through the now-former version. Wow! And then when the break was over, while the guilty part of me kept saying, “you’re a bad person if you end this new relationship,” the more dominant, intuitive part knew it was time.

In that one week, I was on the path to being an entrepreneur and an author, and for — what seemed like the first time with complete confidence — I had followed my inner guidance. The result? An ongoing evolution in my mission toward my dreams.

I have been on fire ever since (well, you know, with some slips and falls and sleep-ins and missed routines and kicking myself, but always followed by snapping back to the path).

So, since that week, I tried many times to get back to that mental space, when I was on top of the world and I was so ruling it. I staged my house just the same, set aside the time and the plan, but it was always different. Like ALWAYS. Not that it was bad, just different…

Four Reasons Why We Can’t Repeat Moments Verbatim

1. Special moments have had their time and place and so we must accept new moments will have theirs, as well. Both of those mega moments for me were absolutely related to the circumstances I was undergoing at those times. It wasn’t about the room I was in or my pen’s nib girth (“fine” all the way, baby). How can I have the exact same thing without having the exact same experiences in mistrust, heartache, and relationships with the exact same people? No, thank you. I got it the first (er… fifth) time.

2a. Most often, we can only imagine that which our minds hold in our memory — either through past experience, by having witnessed / seen / watched it, having read it, or having been told about it. We tend to be limited to expect no better than the best experiences we have ever had. In other words, when faced with the same specific conditions through which we had an absolutely amazing experience, the greatest outcome we are capable of imagining (and hoping for) is that which we have already perceived (similarly, if we’ve had a terrible experience, we have trouble expecting better under the same conditions). What if something better, something we haven’t even thought of, is another possibility under those same great conditions? Who wouldn’t want that?

2b. Further, don’t you have enough repeat moments in a day? It might be that the regularity of falling asleep on the same side in the same spot and getting out of bed with the same leg first and throwing your covers back up with the same quickness and brushing your teeth with the same strokes day after day after day is what makes all of those moments forgettable. So let’s allow our unforgettable moments to be unforgettable by not trying to force nor predict them based on our past experience. Enjoy the newness!

3. In every moment we are changing. There’s a constant cycling of progression and regression and shifting laterally, and leaping forward, and falling back and down and on our faces, and even what seems like standing still. If we are ever-changing, doesn’t it make sense that the moments in our lives change with us?

4. Planning your own surprise is the quickest route to disappointment. When you get there, you won’t be surprised. Let the universe make the party arrangements. Seriously, Type-A, do you have to have your hand in everything?

And by you, of course, I mean me, too.

When we turn the key to begin the healing process or the journey to self-actualization, that single spark in us [inspiration] ignites an explosion [life-altering moment], which fires an engine [purpose].

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But there can only be one explosion to get an engine started. The rest is moving forward.

It’s one thing to expect greatness, it’s another to try to force old magic on a new experience. It’s not going to work, and we might actually be limiting ourselves.

More often than you may know, there is something better waiting for you just around the bend.

So, do your best today to keep your head in the vehicle that is your life — no peeking and no shortcuts.

Have you ever had an experience so great you tried to create it over and over again without luck? How might you give up some control in the future to let the unknown unfold more in your life? 

If something here sparked something in you, please like or share this post. Or, better yet, indulge me with your own thoughts in the comments section below.


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