Monday Notes: Nine Days

I recently watched a film called Nine Days. Basically, a reclusive man conducts a series of interviews with human souls for a chance to be born. A large part of the process requires the souls to watch human beings live their lives via televisions screens. At one point, Will, the recluse who leads this process, asks the souls what moment stood out to them, and that’s what got me thinking.

The film is clearly about recognizing life’s value. One way to do that is to stop and enjoy the moment in the moment, kind of like mindfulness. Even the souls who “lost,” and weren’t offered an opportunity to live, were still offered an opportunity to have Will recreate a moment prior to disappearing into oblivion.

Life is a gift, and the moments of our lives should be cherished.

That’s part of the film’s message.

But it seems like it would take a lot to live in 100% appreciation of one’s life. When my daughters were six and four, for example, I couldn’t imagine stopping to enjoy or appreciate moments. Many times, I hoped all of us would make it through the day without incident. Sure, I appreciated major events, like the time my grandmother and her sister babysat, so Dwight and I could take a group of high school students to England. But what about “small” everyday moments? I don’t even remember those.

In the movie, one soul’s last moment was a recreation of standing in the sand, on the beach, while the waves crashed…in silence. I’ve been to dozens of beaches, and I was grateful for each visit, but going to the beach is like brushing my teeth. How can we stop ourselves from taking moments for granted?

Can we really learn to live in and enjoy each moment without distraction?

When I say distraction, I don’t just mean a technological device. Sometimes, the thoughts in my head are distractions when I’m supposed to be listening to a friend. I’m sure you have your own to choose from. My question is can you pause your distraction, while you fully engage in and appreciate a moment that matters to you, a matter you intentionally created in the first place?

Since watching this movie, I’ve begun reflecting on special moments from my day. This is different than journaling about gratitude. Instead, I simply think about the whole day, as if I’m one of those souls watching myself. What would I value from this day if I weren’t alive? What would I wish for if I didn’t have a body? Then, I choose a couple of moments that were important. This seems like a legitimate way to honor your own life.

What moment would you choose?

What if you were a soul looking at human beings living life? What moment would look meaningful to you? Eating a delicious meal? Hugging another body? Or what if you were the soul who didn’t “win” a life? What moment would you want to experience right before you disappeared into nothingness? Laughing with friends? Creating art? Whatever you chose, do you value those moments now? Are you fully immersed?

I’m sure many of us, at some point, live life by rote memory as if none of it is special. Yesterday could’ve been today, which could be tomorrow, especially since COVID hit. However, Nine Days really helped me conceptualize what enjoying a moment is, and I think it’s something many of us need right now. There seem to be two ways: either get in there and enjoy the moment’s imagery (smell, touch, etc.) or reflect on a moment that was important for you that day. Either way, I know this has helped me live with deeper appreciation of the life I have, and I hope it helps you, too.