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Last Saturday, my husband and I finally got around to watching Boyhood. Although I was familiar with the film’s premise, and had been listening to podcasts with the director and cast of actors, I wasn’t prepared for the powerful way in which I would be moved and affected by the experience. In scene after scene, I felt as though I was watching my own three children growing up and going through the phases of their lives.
When we arrived at the scene in which Mason and Samantha, all dressed up as their favorite Harry Potter characters, arrive at their decorated to the nines school to pick up their own copies of “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”, I really felt as though I was watching a home movie of the very same event with my own children. We were lucky to live through those Harry Potter years – obsessively reading the books together, designing Hogwarts worthy costumes for Halloween, gaming how we would position ourselves to be first in line for the next book, the next movie. It was magical.
But, I think that the real power of Boyhood came from the way in which those twelve years flew by. As brand new empty nesters, I often walk by my kids’ empty bedrooms and wonder, “where did the time go? did we make the most of it?” Watching Mason and Samantha grow up in the span of about three hours, I was struck by the fact that what stayed with me long after the movie was over were all the small moments: the quiet conversations and moments of silent togetherness while doing dishes, reading stories, hiking, or sitting around strumming a guitar. At the movie’s end, one of the characters talks about allowing oneself to be seized by the moment – the here and now.
I’ve been thinking about the movie and this particular idea ever since. So often, we think that the important moments of our lives somehow stand out because they are the big, grand, moments – the ones we take pictures of and celebrate. But Boyhood makes me recognize something else in a quietly profound way; the fabric of our lives is woven out of a collection of those small moments, and how “in the moment” have I been/am I being?
As I close my eyes and imagine myself walking from empty bedroom to empty bedroom and then through the rooms of our house, I’m remembering the small moments with my children. And then, I do the same with my classroom, with the children who have “lived” there these past twelve years, among the desks and comfy chairs and books. And then I remember the words from the final scene in Boyhood, when Mason and his friend take in the sunset on his first day of college life and say: “the moment seizes us…it, constant, the moments…it’s always right now.”
I want to hang on to that thought.
PS. I was thrilled to find that scene on YouTube and had to include it – pardon the effusively enthusiastic inappropriate language at it’s very beginning.