I’m not sentimental–I’m as romantic as you are. The idea, you know,
is that the sentimental person thinks things will last–the romantic
person has a desperate confidence that they won’t.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise
Last week I attended a small birthday celebration. There was a moment in the midst of good company when I stepped back out of my body, looked on our little group as an observer.
I looked on this group of people whom I love and a still small voice whispered,
“This too shall pass.”
A few months ago, this group of women (minus our male mascot) traveled to Texas together. We shared a room at a The Silver Spur Dude Ranch. We giggled and cried, shared hopes and regrets, plot lines and character development. Just before we drove away, we stacked rocks on the low limb of a gnarled oak–a symbol of our presence, a testament to the joy we shared in that place.
A wrangler happened by as we posed for pictures, the group of us sad to leave and talking nonsense about how our stacked stones would be waiting for us on our return the following year.
It wasn’t difficult to read the cowboy’s face.
“Every kid that stays here climbs on that tree,” he said. “Those rocks are gonna be right back in the dirt, same as they are now, before tonight.
With all due respect to cowboy wisdom, he was wrong.
I have no doubt our little tower was gone before night fell. But the stones were not the same. When we each selected our tokens, stacked them one atop the other–in some small way, we changed the molecules, the essence of those stones.
It is not necessary for a moment to last for it to be real. In fact the very impermanence of life is what makes it precious. The rubbing against each other, the mixing of ideas and love and pain–that sharing changes us.
Those stones may now be scattered in the dirt. But the fact that, for just a moment, they were part of something bigger? That changes them forever, makes them something more than they might have been.