• coachsarah

2/17/20 - Live It

The Morning Mantra is available on iTunes, Overcast, Stitcher, Youtube, Soundcloud, Spotify, Youtube and pretty much anywhere podcasts can be found. Transcripts forthcoming on the blog at www.coachedandloved.com

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but when was the last time you read a thousand-word article instead of just retweeting it?

Hi! This is Coach Sarah, and this is the Morning Mantra!

*cue intro music*

Hi, my name is Sarah Axelrod. I'm a run coach and a lover of poetry, and I’m here to put the fun back in profundity. You don't have to be an athlete to be #coachedandloved, and if you need an anchor to hold onto as you move through a tough situation, you've come to the right place.

*music ends*

Today’s mantra is, "Live it."

My mother-in-law is a scrapbooker, a memory maker. She writes down every funny thing my daughter says so that it can be documented for later (and while she saves it for the scrapbook, she also repeats it to every single person she speaks to for the next several days). My daughter is at the moment her first and only grandchild, and she is savoring every single moment.

I sometimes look at her scrapbooks - she has one for every year of my husband’s life until he graduated from college, same for his older brother - and feel wistful at how little i have collected and memorialized in such an organized fashion. I hear constantly that I have to write everything down, collect everything, save everything, back everything up three times, because if I were to lose these images of my daughter’s baby and toddler years they would be gone forever.

I think a lot of us feel this pressure. Make memories! Savor the moment! Live every day like it’s your last! Never forget! Having lost my mom at age 13, I am occasionally gripped by the fear that somehow my family will all die and leave me alone, and the thought of not having them near me is the thing that scares me most.

I want to remember everything. I am heartbroken not to have a single video of my mother, for example, or a single recording of her voice. After she died, we kept her answering machine message for months (it advised callers that if they were in need of a little loving kindness to “just give yourself a hug”). And so my phone is chock-a-block with videos of my daughter singing, spinning, laughing, stirring pancake batter, telling me stories. I have photos upon photos of her eating croissants, drinking hot chocolate, drawing pictures, brushing her teeth naked and covered in self-applied unicorn tattoos. I’m seized by the urge to capture her in her most iconic poses, both the powerful love and affection I feel towards her in those moments and the fear that I’ll forget, the fear of losing this perfect four-year-old version of her.

I want to put my phone away and just be with her - the moment is beautiful and I want to live it. But what if I don’t get the picture that will keep her with me always?

The other day, I went out for a run at about 6 AM, later than usual for me. It was the first clear morning we’d had in several days, and coincidentally, the moon was full and enormous. It hung low in the sky over my shoulder as I ran towards the track, and twice I stopped to take a picture of it because it was so captivating and what if I couldn’t see it anymore once I got to the track? Both photos sucked. The street lamps were in the way, the foreground was blurry, and in the picture the moon just looked like a teeny dot of light, dimmer than the ambient light and barely even identifiable. I was tempted to try again, but I made myself give it up and move on. I got to the track and there it was again, hanging low over the university buildings on one side, while on the opposite side the eastern sky began to glow as the sun got closer to rising. I was still in my warmup, so I stopped for another picture. Again, the moon was so unimpressive the way my phone captured it. How could it look so big and captivating in the sky and yet shrink so willfully in my photo?

After that attempt, my intervals started, which meant NO MORE STOPPING. And yet the urge was so strong. I just had to get the photo. But. Did I? My hand instinctively reached for the phone in my pocket and I searched for what to say to myself to make myself believe that I didn’t really need this photo as much as I thought I did.

I see tourists all over Boston taking photos of everything, photos that seem silly to me, and I used to judge them. But then I look at myself and my camera roll, and I think, I get it. We are all afraid of forgetting. And yet, it isn’t always the case that seeing something through a camera lens is the only way to remembrance. If Proust had had a camera, his memories wouldn’t have saturated his madeleines. Sometimes, you have to trust your mind and your memory to live it.

So, the mantra.

In those moments when your auto-pilot directs you to TAKE THE PHOTO even though taking the photo is actually taking away the moment, take a deep breath and mentally move your hand - gently - away from that pocket. Your senses can all take part in memory. The thing you want to remember will be gone, but you who have lived it will be here. So, live it. Live it as you face the fear of forgetting, and let it all be part of this when you look back on it.

*cue outro music*

You are Coached. You are Loooved, and you ARE winning at life. And if you need MOAR reasons to believe that, follow @morningmantrapod on Instagram and subscribe to the Coached and Loved weekly newsletter!

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