I have a cherished memory. I was in my early twenties and working in New Brunswick at a summer English language program for adults. Students came from all over the world (but mostly from Quebec) and lived in residence on a university campus.
The staff, most of whom were young, lived in residence with the students and were (in addition to teaching all day and coordinating recreational activities) in charge of patrolling the halls at night to ensure that only English was being spoken (every student signed a contract to that effect and agreed that if they were caught in violation of this rule three times, then they would be sent home. I have never heard of a university based program to be as tough as this one. But it worked). Most of us loved the work but it was intense, exhausting (the hours were very long) and, at times, very stressful. And it was exactly the environment that fostered strong bonds between staff members.
One evening, most of the staff were told that we could have an unexpected day off. At eleven o'clock that night, a bunch of us piled into two cars and drove all night to a friend's cottage (stopping only for gas and to take pictures at the world's longest covered bridge). We arrived at dawn (I couldn't tell you where exactly, but it was beautiful), and a few of us immediately went to put on our suits and go play in the rapids. I remember laughing and playing in the cool water as the sun came up, then crashing for a couple of hours on the cottage floor. Later that morning, we all went for a paddle and I remember drifting lazily in the sun (I am still a very lazy paddler).
We left after dinner that night, to be back in time for work the next morning.
I have lost touch with all of my friends from that day but the memory remains a special one, as a time that I was joyfully living right in the moment.
I was feeling a bit sad the other day as I reflected that I am unlikely to ever have that kind of experience again, what with responsibility, health and (let's face it) age all working against me.
But then I realized that such joyful moments occur routinely, I just need to remember to be open to them. And my kids help a lot with that.
A couple of weeks ago, S. had his birthday party. This was the first such party he wanted in years, so we agreed to go all out and have it at the movie theatre. They were such a nice group of kids and had a great time being silly together! And as I looked down the aisle and took in nine enraptured faces (we saw the new Indiana Jones movie. Good fun), each kid balancing popcorn on skinny knees, I realized that I was having one of those moments. Pure joy.
Cross-posted to Mommybloggers.