Moments That Matter

by Natalie Yuhas


“It must be a great disappointment to God if we are not dazzled at least ten times a day.” Mary Oliver, Blue Horses: Poems


Nothing makes me want to pound my head repeatedly against the desk quite like discussing the question of, “What is art?” So, when the professor posed that question on the first day of one of my English classes, my eyes immediately glazed over as better students than me engaged in a debate with the professor on the purpose of art. I was barely paying attention at all, until the professor projected a Monet painting up on the board that caught my eye.


In 1873, Claude Monet strayed from the usual composition and technique of painters at the time and created what is now known as the “first” Impressionistic work- Impressionism, Sunrise. In this painting, he used a series of small brushstrokes to capture the hazy scene of an ordinary morning on a harbor as the sun rose behind some boats. Monet decided to paint the same port at different times of day and from various angles. Through colors and short brushstrokes, he portrayed how diverse the same scene looked as time and perspective changed.  Monet and other painters during the Impressionist movement focused on painting everyday scenes of “life in motion,” to seize the beauty and complexity of an exact moment in time.


As if I needed to be hit over the head with the message any more blatantly, I went to my Word of Mouth forum that week where we had to talk on the topic of a moment, day, or event from our lives we wish we could relive. There were so many memories that came to mind, but nothing significant enough to speak about for a full three minutes; they were simple, ordinary moments that really had no sort of story attached to them. I thought about taking drives with my dad when I was way too young to be sitting in the front seat as he explained how a manual transmission car works, about sitting in the living room with my roommate over the summer, quietly reading our different books while listening to Frank Sinatra together, and of wandering around Boston aimlessly with my best friend for the entire day for no reason except that we wanted to keep talking about everything and nothing with each other. I thought about all the home videos my dad used to make of my family when we were younger. Instead of recitals and birthday parties, he caught our everyday lives at that little yellow house in Ohio from my childhood, playing baseball in the backyard, building snowmen in our puffy snowsuits, and reading bedtime stories. As I thought about it, I realized that my favorite memories have almost always been random moments of ordinary life in motion. The moments I want to relive over and over again are the perfectly content ones of just being with those I love, the ones that give me the feeling of being my best, most authentic self.


Life is very much in motion for me this senior year and I feel like I spend most of my days constantly busy and just trying to keep my head above water. But like the poet Mary Oliver, like Monet and the other Impressionist painters, and like my dad, I want to be aware of all the beauty that comes from appreciating life in motion. There is so much around me, at least ten things a day, that are wonderful and beautiful.  My goal for this year is not to get distracted by my stress and other worries and to hold on close to the gift of the simple, everyday moments that mean so much during my last year at Boston College.

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