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How We Change (Part 2)

by Chloe KoffasLight From A Pixel

Girl and her dog at the beach, 1975

Halle at the Beach with her dog | California, 1970s | Source: Olga

About a year ago, we were on vacation for a few days where cool air was blowing over the ocean, weddings were happening at every sunset in a giant gazebo softly lit by a chandelier, and you could fall asleep in the afternoon on a lounge chair in the warm sun. Of course, as a writer, I observe people, and there was something I noticed again and again: most people on vacation on this beach were not able to leave their problems at home. Fathers would smile pleasantly as they ate lunch with their families, and then as their children would go off to swim with plans to meet them later, they would sit at their table, and stare off into space with extraordinary worry. It was as if every unresolved issue at work was gnawing at them. I saw two close friends vacationing together part ways after dinner as they discussed problems in their marriages and I could see clearly that the one at the table finishing her glass of wine was distraught by every problem in her relationship, not noticing the lapping waves and palm trees just a hundred feet away. All this agony was surfacing in people’s minds when that could have been a moment to just sit back and be.

Woman in a 1950s bathing suit

Olga’s Mom – 1950s | Source: Olga

We try so hard to live in the present, but it’s difficult – our minds, some would say our egos, pull us one minute to the past and the next minute to the future. And while you can look up ways online to make that stop, it takes a lot of conscious work. No doubt there are days when it is hard to live in the present, there is the heaviness we feel from our minds that hold millions of memories that surface like driftwood at some of the most unexpected moments. And there are the deadlines and expectations of others as tomorrow presses in on us.

New Years 1967

Olga celebrates New Years 1967 | Source: Olga

Time has this brutish way of stealing from us, if we let it. We light candles embedded in frosting and smoke curls up from the match as we see our spouse or child from across their birthday cake. It’s a moment of happiness that can quickly dissipate if we focus on the realization they will never have that birthday again, that we will never have this exact moment with them again. This kind of thinking causes an anguish in us that something is slipping away and that we are powerless to get it back. Of course our time is precious with those we love, but I believe it is not ultimately finite.

Black Boy and White Girl - Friends in the early 1970s

Halle (right) and her buddy | Gen-Xers who belonged to Olga | San Diego, 1974 | Source: Olga

I’ve come to recognize lately that I’ve spent far too much time feeling grief that some lovely moment is passing, never to return. The last time I felt this, I pulled myself out of that grief to get some perspective on how completely unfair this is. After all, life is hard; shouldn’t we at least be allowed to fully enjoy its beautiful moments? I began to realize, by stepping just outside this juncture, that I should no longer allow time to wound me, life already wounds us enough. I realized that in these seemingly fleeting moments, we should be experiencing the opposite of grief: joy in the knowledge that another good moment awaits us after this one is over. I have decided that instead of watching these experiences slip away, as if our souls are finite, as if all of time is finite, I will recognize each beautiful moment as a precursor to a similar, yet exponentially more beautiful moment later in the eternal.

Father and children playing on a California Beach 1970s

Father and children playing on a California Beach 1970s | Source: Olga

I’ve grown tired of time causing me to regret, or causing me to worry. I want to live whatever time I have left here as much in the present as possible. And as an extension of that, I want to see every good and beautiful moment as a foreshadowing, not as an end unto itself. I don’t believe we were put on this earth to mourn fleeting beauty, I believe we were placed here to prepare for a beauty that is beyond what our minds are not yet able to conceive.

© 2017 Chloe Koffas

Photos sourced by permission from Olga. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Kamiyama

    The first and last photos look like Baker Beach. I lived in Oakland for ten years, and used to frequent San Fransisco, particularly for the Japanese video store and book store in the Western Addition, being originally from Japan.

    Here is a map -> http://www.parksconservancy.org/map/#visit/park-sites/baker-beach.html?coords=14:37.8015:-122.4640

    And here’s a Wikipedia entry; the photo has pretty much the same exact view -> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baker_Beach

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