Friday, June 10, 2011

The Beauty of Forward Motion



For months I have been fascinated with capturing a scene that involves our backyard fence and the children in schoolyard that backs up to that fence.

Every school morning, the children run around the perimeter of the yard and as they pass by, I can see, through in the slats of our back fence, their silhouettes. It’s not exactly slow motion. It’s more like a zoetrope effect. It’s fascinating to watch. My eye and brain try to connect the stuttered movement that flits by so quickly.

My own boys went to this school and ran around the perimeter of this yard in the same way. I hear the healthy, happy kids talking and laughing with their friends in the morning air and I smile, remembering my sons as young children.

Indeed, the movement of these shadows in the morning light creates a dreamlike effect that is the perfect representation of childhood. The image that passes along that fence touches my heart so deeply and so I decided to capture this image with my camera.

Morning after morning, I stood on my patio and clicked away as the shadows passed by. I downloaded the pictures and grew frustrated. The photographs on the screen did nothing to encapsulate the image I wanted. I tried day after day to re-create what my eyes saw, to translate through a picture, the emotion this scene elicited in me.

Finally, I decided that perhaps I should take a video of it instead. I tried, but for some reason my camera froze up on me, clicked off when it should have been filming. I sat in the backyard and watched the scene pass by, irritated at its elusiveness and my inability to catch it and freeze it in time.

I looked down at my trusty camera and had a strange feeling that it was looking up at me, shyly admitting it was in cahoots with the universe in delivering a message I needed to hear.


You see, this weekend is a big one for our family. Today we will go to the high school and watch my youngest son graduate from high school. (My baby—graduating high school already?)

Then, just hours later, we will get in the car and drive up to Santa Cruz to watch my oldest son graduate from college on Saturday. (My sandy-haired little boy—a college graduate? Really?)



This fall they will both be moving on, one to begin college up north and the other to attend graduate school in Virginia.

This weekend when I see my boys in their caps and gowns, when I see them cross those stages and grasp those diplomas, I will try to remember the lesson of the fence.

No matter how much I want to stop time I can’t. Their lives, (and mine) move on, circling the perimeter. The seamless view I had of their childhoods gives way to stuttered ones via scattered e-mails, sporadic phone calls, intermittent visits.

They run on with enthusiasm and zeal toward their own lives and that is the way it is supposed to be.

Though it is tempting to want to stop time, to capture, to freeze it, the attempt is futile and the results, frustrating.


Real joy comes from sitting back, watching life unfold, recognizing the preciousness (and elusiveness) of these moments, and celebrating the beauty of forward motion.




See you all on Monday.


63 comments:

Teresa Evangeline said...

"Celebrating the movement of forward motion," is a message for me this morning, unrelated to my children, but an important one. You've described the perfect scenario in trying to capture time. Beautifully done.

Congrats to you, for the fine accomplishments of your children.

Old Kitty said...

BB!! Your beautiful boys are on their way to wonderful and exciting journeys - thanks to their fantastic creative mum and dad!! Huge congratulations to you all!! Take care
x

Leah J. Utas said...

For as much as we want to freeze time, the best we can do is remember. It is stopped in our minds.
Well executed, Betty.

Susan in the Boonies said...

What a great metaphor for the elusiveness of time: those moments slip right through our fingers, despite our very best efforts to be completely present in the moment, and not miss a bit, (which is about the best we can do), we simply can't. stop. time.

Jim Croce: Time in a bottle and all that.

~sigh~

Out on the prairie said...

No matter how old we hold a certain image in our minds of others.I spoke at a funeral the other day and when I greeted the fellows mother I reminded her that we had been paperboys together. Her mind was watching children,all grown and gray, and she thanked me for being his friend.She then went back to the time she was visiting.Lovely post Betty.

Jack of Diamonds said...

if it be a grain of sand or a rock, they both sink in water.

Gigi said...

Beautifully said, Betty! Congrats to your boys for all their accomplishments.

Larri @ Seams Inspired said...

Congratulations to your boys! You've captured their milestones beautifully in this post. Forward motion is something I've always tried to slow down, but it just propels as fast as it can in my world. Enjoy the weekend! Happy Friday! :o)

Mamma has spoken said...

Oh what an emotional week-end you will have! Hope you have a box or two of tissues ready. I will for your post next week.

Cool Gal said...

You have such an unbelievable talent for putting things into words.

I am experiencing the same emotions with my son. He will be in eighth grade next year.

He's less dependent on us, would rather "hang" with his friends (perfectly normal), and is growing up way too fast.

Before I know it, my little angel will be moving on...

The way it is supposed to be.

baygirl32 said...

congratulations to your boys! kids and time, I don't know where it goes.

Jules said...

Some things are just not meant to be captured but rather felt. Congratulations to both your boys and big hug for you.
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Brian said...

I was able to picture that fence scene perfectly. Time marches on, just enjoy the ride!

Stacey Dawn said...

Congratulations to both your boys on their graduations! What an exciting time for them...

Thanks for the comment on my POTW!!

Blessings to you and yours this weekend and thanks for the reminder of how precious time is!

Elizabeth Grimes said...

That was a beautiful metaphor. Congratulations on your 2 sons. What an amazing accomplishment.

Pearl said...

Love how this was described. So poignant - and poetic.

So many graduation parties this weekend! I shall be serving at two of them. Think of me, won't you, and my poor tired feet?

:-)

Pearl

Nancy said...

Have a fabulous, pride-filled weekend, Betty. Congrats all around!

Marg said...

Love how you put all that with the children running past your fence. It is too bad we can't take pictures of such things but it just isn't meant to be. Congrats on your two sons graduating. That is fabulous. Just moving on to another phase of life. Take care.

jenny_o said...

While kids going out into the world IS how it's supposed to be, it still makes a parent's heart ache a little. Have a beautiful weekend and congratulations to the boys and to you and your husband for your part in getting them ready.

Ms. A said...

Offering congratulations as well as commiserations. (and a tear, 'cause this part is hard) Blessings!

Lydia K said...

What a beautifully written post! You captured that impossible feeling of trying to stop time perfectly.

Eva Gallant said...

That was a wonderful post! I love the imagery! And congrats on your sons' milestones!

A Tale of Two Cities said...

Boy did this post bring back memories of my boys' graduations some years ago. Such precious memories. Enjoy the weekend, as fleeting as it may be!

EmptyNester said...

Betty-Yet another excellent post! Congrats on the graduations- we just had one and she is moving off to Texas for grad school so I completely understand how you feel. I find myself conflicted- one one hand so proud of the young adults they've become and, on the other hand, wishing I could have kept them running the perimeter of the elementary school playground!

The weekend will be wonderful! I can just see you sitting there filled with pride...watery eyes and all!

Bouncin' Barb said...

Wow, a very special celebratory weekend. That is wonderful. Congrats to the graduates and to the parents for seeing them through to it. Enjoy every minute.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

A wonderful post Betty, your children have done well.

I am proud of mine even though one don't want me in his life......I wish I knew the reason but I'm here should he want me.

Enjoy your week-end.;
Yvonne.

Madi and Mom said...

Hi BB,
Excellent post!!
You most certainly will be making memories and marking milestones this weekend. Congrats to Sonny boy and Evan on their graduation.
We wish them both tons and tons of success in their future educational endeavors.
hugs Madi and Mom

Linda said...

I hope you're preparing some of these posts for publication in book form. You have such a talent for putting into words what we've all experienced in some form or another. Beautifully done.

Desiree said...

Betty, this is a beautifully written post! I will not be surprised if it does it's rounds via email ;)

Congratulations to your two sons on their respective achievements and good luck to them both as they embark on the next chapter of their lives.

Desiree said...

Such inspired writing, Betty! You have captured a Mother's conflicted feelings superbly!

Congratulations to your two graduates! I can feel your immense pride and nostalgia and wish you all well as you embark on the next chapter of your lives.

Brian Miller said...

congrats to you grads! that is awesome...time flies just like those shadows, hard to catch...

where is he going in VA?

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Big moments in life! Enjoy yourself, Betty.

Daisy said...

You made me cry again with this post, Betty. Well said. Congratulations to both your boys on their accomplishments and to you on helping them succeed. I wish them and you all the best in the future. Hugs to you.

Stephen Tremp said...

I totally agree. I refuse to live in the past. I look forward to looking forward, or something like that.

Betty Manousos@ Cut and Dry said...

what a wonderful achievement!
congratulations on your two boys!

lovely post and photo.

have a great weekend!

betty xx

Baby Sister said...

I love that connection. Beautifully written Betty. Good luck this weekend!!

The Adorkable Ditz said...

Man I remember when I graduated high school. It was slightly sad but I was grateful to get out of there. It will feel weird when I am a college graduate.

http://theadorkableditzmissteps.blogspot.com/

Mommy on the Spot said...

Oh, my! What a beautiful post. Your last sentence says it the best.

My first born just graduated from preschool this week. I am really struggling with the next phase. Thanks for such a touching post.

Catherine said...

A wonderful post Betty ~ wishing you the best weekend. Congratulations to your boys!
xo Catherine

Pat said...

Congratulations on having two graduates in your household! It's going to be a tough fall for you ....sending off two kids to college, although your older son has already been gone.

This post was beautifully written.

Ann said...

Congratulations to both of your boys on their achievements. I'm sure a very emotional weekend ahead for you watching not one but two of your children reaching these milestones.

Miriam in KS said...

Congratulations to all of you! But the most exciting and important part? You don't have to divide and conquer to celebrate each son's accomplishments!
(Another friend of mine pretty much told the older boy he needed to double major and take 5 years to graduate because his younger brother's high school graduation would be the same day. Hours apart and states and miles apart. Yes...but not there would not be enough hours to allow for travel time from southwest Missouri to southwest Iowa. He agreed and "minded", lol!)

Retired English Teacher said...

This was a very beautiful post. I loved the way you tied the school yard fence scene to your sons' milestone. You are right. Life is moving forward, and it is beautiful. That is how it should be.

Congratulations to you sons on their accomplishments.

Siv Maria said...

As usual you put beautiful thoughts and images on the plate of my hungry mind. Congrats on your boys :)

Theresa Milstein said...

The fence is a perfect comparison to what it's like being a mother. We try to capture moments in time, but they slip through too quickly. Wonderfully written, Betty.

Shrinky said...

Oh, what a perfect observation of life, and beautifully written! My, this IS a major landmark for your family - and yes, all is as it should be, isn't it? My son returns from University tomorrow for the summer break and I can hardly wait (although I KNOW he will be driving me demented long before the summer is half-way through)!

Flartus said...

Good luck keeping it together this weekend! At least you have been able to raise two healthy, accomplished boys to their adulthood. That is something to be grateful for, right there.

Jayne said...

Aw Betty, so insightful and so true. My son moves on to high school in the fall, and I am beginning to feel the acceleration of time (wrote about this yesterday, myself).
You're absolutely correct--"that is the way it is supposed to be." Yet still, bittersweet.
Congratulations to you and your family. Those boys are going to do well for themselves--they have a wonderful mother. :)

Donna said...

First of all, you get a HUG...
Now I hope your smiling because this all tells me...You are one Great Mom!!
Congratulations!!
hughugs

Carrie Lynne said...

If only we could freeze frame those take your breathe away moments. I love the way you made the connection in this story,thank you for making me wax nostalgia.

Katherines Corner said...

Have a great weekend my bloggy friend. Hugs♥

Marlene said...

Oh Betty, time does fly, doesn't it? My baby just graduated from college and my firstborn has been out on her own and working as an RN for almost three years now. How the heck did they grow up so fast?

Gods Little People said...

Betty, you are such a beautifully gifted writer... you have me in the palm of your hand.

Talli Roland said...

Wonderful post, Betty - I love how you used the fence as a metaphor for the passing of time! Congrats to both your sons.

Hilary said...

Those elusive moments.. luckily they live on so vividly in our memories. Congratulations on these two milestones.

Pat Tillett said...

Childhood (like your attempted photos of it) is a fleeting thing. It's here, it's crazy, it's rewarding and then it's gone.
Congrats to you and your family!
Go bannana slugs!

Lin said...

WOW! You certainly have a lot going on, Betty! Congratulations on both graduations. :) What a great year it is to celebrate at your house!

I'm thinking about that fence and I know how fleeting it all is. I also know how hard it is to capture those giggles and laughs from the other side of the fence and it is hopeless to try and convey all of that with one shot. It doesn't work.

I learned a long time ago to put the camera down for some of the things in my kid's life and just to sit back and enjoy. The video rarely portrays the moment anyway, so I just lived and enjoyed whatever they were doing at the moment.

I hope you are enjoying your weekend and your beautiful family with all of their accomplishments. :)

floweringmama said...

I bet you feel so proud - as well you should.

Often there have been times when I so wished I'd had my camera to capture "that moment" - so I can relate.

Hope you had a great weekend!

SquirrelQueen said...

We can't stop time but we can replay it over and over in our memories.

Hope you had a wonderful weekend Betty.

Judy

Brian (not the cat) said...

I wonder how the frame rate of your video camera would have interacted with the moving shadows through the slats. It might have appeared that the children were running backwards, like some sort of digital-Plato's-cave-time-machine.

Sherri said...

The Empress sent me here, since I also have a son who JUST graduated HS last week...and have been posting about it too. And now you have me all teary once again, with the image of the fence and the children behind it.

This is beautiful, and congrats to you.

Shan said...

Just beautiful, BB, beautiful.

Sara said...

I tend to get so focused on the forward motion, that I forget to look at the beauty. Thank you for the important reminder to sit back and celebrate what is.