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Keeping perfect moments

My family left today after spending the holidays here in Austin. We shared fond memories, ate way too much good food and made it through four-plus days (and nights) without a single fight. In fact, I was the one this time who proposed they stay a bit longer. I think my mother and I both are finally growing up!

But it was time for them to hit the road.

We had a very mini-parade, my car leading theirs out of our twisty, hilly neighborhood. Once we got to the highway, they knew the rest of the route and passed me. I watched them accelerate down the road, then pulled over to turn around and head back home, where I knew husband dear had already crawled back under the covers.

But before making the U-turn, I took a moment. It was a gorgeous morning, clear and crisp and calm; one of those times where everything is perfect. Since you can’t stop time and keep this slice of it forever, you at least want to savor and appreciate it while it’s here. So I did.

Now I’m home, “real,” post-holiday life resumes and the day’s earlier peace and beauty are being pushed into memory by more mundane, necessary thoughts. That’s life, where the seemingly perfect and decidedly not-so-perfect must find a way to coexist.

Not to get preachy here, but as an early new year’s resolution I’m going to try to appreciate at least one such “perfect” moment each day. They’re there, sometimes very small, but there. You just have to be willing to see and accept them.

Those moments can help sustain you when the other side of life, its absurdities and tragedies, eventually intrude. That definitely was the case a year ago today. I can’t recall exactly how last Dec. 26 started for me, but I do remember that before the day was over my husband and I watched in horror the reports of the Asian tsunami that forever changed the lives of almost two million people halfway around the world. Then just nine months later, Hurricane Katrina wiped out much of the U.S. Gulf Coast as we knew it. Roads that we had driven just four months earlier in our move from Florida to Texas no longer existed.

Unfortunately, such natural catastrophes as well as other disasters, manmade and people-directed,  abound. We can’t escape them or the aftermath, so we have to learn to manage as best we can. If your faith helps sustain you, then good for you. If you cope in a more secular way, such as giving to relief organizations, then by all means keep doing so even when there’s no overwhelming tragedy to be dealt with. The need will arise far too soon.

In the meantime, remember that everything is transitory, good and bad. But our humanity and compassion can help get us through it all. And so can those daily perfect moments.

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