As the end of the year approaches, the “best of” lists are starting to find their way to our desktops. Best films and best music are familiar. The lists always seem to be expanding; best quotes, worst advertisements, and awkward moments are always fun. Given that this year is also the end of a decade, the lists take on multiple dimensions. As I read one person’s list of the best films of a decade, I realized that I had only seen one and at best recognized two more. Most were unseen and unknown.
The fact that many of the lists are filled with references I do not recognize should not be surprising. This has, for many others as well as me, been a busy year. I have been overwhelmed with the process of surviving each day. Uncertainty appeared to dominate the norm. Fear trumped confidence. Core assumptions have been challenged with a lingering sense of doubt.
In this context, I wonder if I have noticed the pivotal moments in my life. Some were obvious. It was as if I were Paul talking to the crowd. I had control of my life and then something happened. In his case, “the people in the crowd had listened attentively up to this point, but now they broke loose, shouting out, ‘Kill him! He’s an insect! Stomp on him!’ They shook their fists. They filled the air with curses.” (Acts 22.22) He had them, then, he lost them. I had a sense of direction and then I lost it.
Other pivotal moments can only be glimpsed in quiet reflection. I did not recognize them at the time. I can barely see them now.
As I anticipate today, I am reaching for two ideas.
Being in the present is the best way to recognize a pivot moment. If one’s focus is elsewhere, the moment will be missed. Decisions will be taken without intent. Courses set without bearing and reference.
Coming into a moment prepared is the best way to enjoy the moment. Preparation includes reflection, rest, and a sense of renewal.