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A life of moments

“A good life is a collection of beautiful moments.”I’m not sure who said that. It’s possible it was me who said it, but I tend to doubt it. The quote is semi-profound, so my guess is that the author went to college. To me the quote means “don’t get distracted by your future or past, and ignore the day to day moments.” I’d imagine that it is those moments that an old couple recalls as they sit in the shade holding hands. All of us have experienced some “defining moments.” That is when the nature of a person is revealed. One defining moment in my life was when, as a young child, my sister Martha told me that if I stuck my Saint Jude pendant in a light socket while the chain was around my neck, God would protect me from getting shocked. That moment defined my gullibility, my sister’s cunning, and God’s role as an observer, not participant, in human folly.The are also “decisive moments.” These are the instances where life choices are made, each with their own rewards and repercussions. For me, a decisive moment was when, at the age of 18, I gave up my dream of becoming a career criminal in Boston to headed to Colorado to work as a waiter. It’s a shame that often the most crucial decisive moments arrive in the teenage years of a person’s life – when they are least able to comprehend the ramifications of their decisions. I have friends of teenage children who are praying their kids make better choices then they themselves did.Looking back on decisive moments is pointless. The die has been cast, and there is no going back. Personally, I made some good choices, like getting rid of my mullet hair cut, and some poor choices, like investing in skis and bicycles instead of real estate. In either case, you learn from, and live with, the results.The precious moments, the ones we’ll recall on our deathbeds, are what a good life is made of. They are profoundly personal, yet often meaningless to others. Considering a full life of experiences, it’s interesting to see the ones that stay in your mind like a mental tattoo. As a boy, I remember clinging to my father’s back like a wet monkey while he drove me around town on a motorcycle. I was about 10, and he smelled of Old Spice and Jim Beam. A few years later, Mark Anacleto and I climbed a drainpipe to the roof of an abandoned factory. We spit on the traffic passing below us and smoked cigarettes stolen from my mother. I think that was the first time I had a sense of what it felt like to be a man.As I look back on the moments I hold most precious, they are mostly innocuous instances. Ignored are the first kiss, first love, touchdowns, and cheap-wine debauchery. In their place are odd moments of isolated encounters and clarity. I’m not sure what actually makes a moment memorable. My guess is that it’s different for each of us. I will say lately I’ve been trying to recognize them when they occur. This not only serves to intensify my recollections but also heightens appreciation.A marriage produces many moments. I’ll always recall when my bride used my toothbrush to clean her acid-encrusted battery posts and terminals of her car, then put it back unwashed on my sink. I’ll remember our wedding and honeymoon and some trips and anniversaries. But when I’m older and balder, I think I’ll remember more clearly the everyday instances: lying on the couch late at night, Ellen next to me, our small dog draped on my chest, reliving our days. While it happened, without knowing why, I knew we were having a moment. A memory like that can take the bad taste of brushing your teeth with battery acid right out of your mouth. Not all moments are as profound as spitting on traffic or painful as sticking a crucifix in a light socket, but they are the table of contents of our lives.Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on RSN, heard on KOA radio, and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at biffbreck@yahoo.com.Biff’s book “Steep, Deep and Dyslexic” is available from local book stores or at Backcountrymagazine.com . Vail, Colorado


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