1 January 2019 by Lisa Melonçon
On the top of my foot, I have a tattoo of what I call a medieval diagnostic device. Now, the old manuscripts and books (ca. 1375-1575) that I’ve studied and obsessed over for years would not call it that, but when the image is places in context and parsed, it is definitely a diagnostic tool. It also encapsulates the oddities of time from that era.
My tattoo has parts that symbolize the day of the week when I was born and the phase of the moon and of course, the zodiac, which helped to bring in another body of medical knowledge based on the time of the year of I was born. And during this era, it is also a fairly accepted idea that what folks called a moment was equivalent to about 90 seconds. Time has always been a key marker in our lives, and in modern times, we all live by the clock in various ways. Keep in mind that our Our modern conception of time with it’s minutes and second and hours and years and time zones didn’t get standardized until 1847.
But I want to unsettle that it a bit. While I have been working on a scholarly project about time for a while, I want to focus today—on this new start to a new year—on an increment of time that has always been in the consciousness of humans: the moment.
The moment has always been more flexible than other modes of time because it is often the increment that we think of our lived experiences. Go ahead: take a moment to think through 2018. What likely flashes through your memory are a series of moments, both good and bad, that marked you in some intentional way.
Even Facebook and instagram has the best nine pictures. Those “best 9” are the moments captured in film. But what happens to all the other moments, more mundane moments, that aren’t captured? Those that remain out of sight or more quiet or more personal are likely the ones that will remain in our consciousness, driving us and soothing us, for time to come.
Last year, I wished you joy. This topic was brought on in large part from my own attempts to find joy in a world and in a life that had ceased being joyful. The difficulties of 2017 just expanded into 2018 as I struggled in most every aspect of life. By the middle of fall, though, I felt, finally, as if I would no longer snap in two from my own physical frailty and grief was still present but not as hard to carry. And in the final days of 2018, I reflected that there were many instances of joy were joyful and instances where memories of joy carried me through. But the joy was quieter and smaller and much more personal.
They were moments.
Those moments were filled with the meaningfulness of the mundane and of simply, being and becoming. There are so many clichés about living in the moment and being thankful for the moments. I cannot deny the power of those and what those words can bring at different intervals in our lives.
So my wish for each of you for 2019 is to that you have the focus, patience, and courage to live the moments, to embrace the moments, to be intentional in the moments.
Wishing you peace, health, and joy!