I Remember it so Vividly …
Like it was yesterday. Driving in the car with my dad. I remember the swervey stretch of road. I remember that I was in the front seat (I think this was totally legal back then? … my guess is that I was sans seat belt as well). I remember the smell of the Fall air and that the leaves were in mid color change. I remember singing along … laughing hysterically … and asking him to play it again. And again. And again.
The song was “Hat Song” by Kevin Ayers. If you’re unfamiliar with it, don’t worry, you are one of the 99.99% of normal human beings who have never heard this song before! But do yourself a favor and give it a listen (it’s only 90 seconds long). But don’t just listen to it … listen to it 10 times in a row and try your best to experience it through the impressionable lens of a 7 year old boy’s ears and brain 😄.
Why That Memory?
Why on Earth has that car ride become a go-to memory for me with such profound staying power? I mean, I can’t remember anything from the entire decade of my 20s. Like, not one thing. I so wish I was exaggerating, but it’s a complete blur. I also couldn’t tell you what I had for breakfast yesterday. Heck, I don’t even know what today’s date is! … seriously, and I just looked at my watch like 5 minutes ago. So, why do I remember windy roads and front seats and every word to a song from a day sometime in the early-1980s-ish? Why is that moment seared so brightly into my memory when I can’t even remember what day it is?!
Seemingly Random-ish Memories.
There are a handful of random-ish moments like this that I can still recall at will, even though they happened long ago. That car ride with my dad is one of them. Another was a walk my CEO took with me around our building ~10 yrs ago. Another was a surprise greeting from a server at a TGI Friday’s ~20 yrs ago. So, why that car ride? Why that walk? Why that server greeting?
I’m going to skip the part where I pretend to be a too-smart-neuro-memory expert-scientist-guy 🤓 … discussing short vs. long term memories and how relevance, emotional pain and your beliefs all play a factor in what memories stay and what memories go … and jump right to my realization.
In the NOW = Lasting Impact.
All three of these memories have a common thread: An individual with one million other things they could be thinking about, for a tiny moment, chose to make ME the center of their universe. I imagine my dad had an important meeting coming up at work. My CEO undoubtedly had more pressing places to be and more important people to talk to. I’m sure my server at TGI Friday’s had just gotten a crappy tip from table 12 and table 15 was waiting on refills. All three individuals (justifiably) could have had their attention elsewhere.
But they each gave me a gift: They gave me the gift of their full focus. They were all straight up present and in the NOW with me. These were all tiny moments in the grand scheme of things (a car ride, a walk, a greeting), but they are tiny moments that have had a lasting impact on me. But not because profound words were spoken or because elaborate effort or preparation was required. In fact, it’s precisely the opposite. It’s so simple in spirit: These individuals chose to be in the NOW and as a result, they created lasting memories that I can still feel today.
I think Maya Angelou said it best:
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.Maya Angelou
The Power of being in the NOW.
I try to live my life with this mindset. I want to be in the NOW … like, all the time. I don’t want to miss an opportunity to make a lasting impact on someone else. Because I know that every car ride with my kids (can be a “My Hat” moment) … and every 1on1 or walk with an employee (is an opportunity to connect and inspire) … and every time I engage with a stranger (I can surprise them with a smile or a hello). In any and every tiny moment, I know that I have an opportunity to make a lasting impact on someone else.
What random, tiny moments have had a lasting impact on you … when someone gave you the gift of being present and in the NOW? Please share. The random-er the better-er 😉.