What makes a perfect moment?

Do you note events special enough to boldly announce that you’re experiencing an ideal day?

The instances of perfection in my universe started when I began paying attention to the minutes of life ticking by. Which means I’ve likely been blessed with unique, fleeting occasions worthy of attention throughout my journey but didn’t see them. How sad to miss opportunities to exclaim, “Oh!” I missed the depth of an instant during something sublime occurring.

The composition of faultless moments ranges from simplistic ones that fade from memory to those I sense are nonpareil. An event reflected on time and again. There’s a mellowing snapshot of that thing aging in my mind. The  incident grows better as it is mulled upon over the passing of days.

The deepest months of a Pennsylvania winter can be dark. There is a thick, heavy whiteness covering the sloped yard. But then a bright, Montana-like sun creeps through the living room skylights. Perfection comes in curling up on the oversized sofa under a worn-to-soft cotton patchwork quilt, reading a good book. It’s a flawless experience. Add a cup of hot tea and a fresh baked cookie and could the day be any better? 

Sometimes a perfect moment is the relaxing quiet around me. It is drifting into an elusive nap for twenty minutes. Maybe it’s a dream of summer walks on the beguiling Pembrokeshire Coast Path.

Finding Perfect Moments in Wales

Speaking of that glorious Wales trail, priceless times occur hiking any part of its nearly two hundred miles. From meeting kind people, being serenaded by a Welshman, to the setting of the sun across an expansive beach…. My heart sinks to the earth and relishes being in the right there, right now, in the land of my long ago heritage.

On a beautiful spring day, an ideal time is comprised of yard work with my husband, more like play as we share the multitude of chores. We compare mental notes—what was it we did with this plant last spring? Do we prune this bush now? Mowing, weeding, filling five special pots with annuals in multiple colors to brighten the front steps. I revel in getting dirty and ending up covered scalp to ankles with soil and knees stained green with grass. There’s nothing dainty about my ability to dig into flower beds—new or established—and weed to my heart’s joy.

Setting plays a large part in what a moment of contentedness can look like. The back deck on a quiet afternoon, sparkly lights hanging from the gazebo roof, a book at hand… . The dining room table, leaves in place to accommodate ten, strewn with colorful plates of food, chairs occupied by smiling friends, telling stories, laughter so hearty we’re almost crying.

What’s a perfect day to you?

Does everyone view a late afternoon on a Hawaiian beach as an ultimate definition of perfection? Each evening I’ve been blessed to sit in the sand watching the sun drop down into the Pacific has been distinctive. There’s a collective, unspoken agreement by spectators to be still and watch, savor the colors of orange spreading across the open sky, and resist spoiling the joy by uttering a word.

Orange and gold of Oahu sunsets
Perfect Oahu sunset

A Cozy Fire Creates a Perfect Moment

When visiting at sister Jackie’s Montana home, our favorite spot any time of year is their outdoor Nest. The stone structure has a massive fireplace on one end, pizza oven on the other, large openings on the sides, and a cozy arrangement of chairs and love seats. Many a deep and often a frivolous conversation has been shared there, glass of red wine nearby, fire spitting out warmth, snow falling. Quality time with friends, discussing real emotions and life events, realizing that you need/they need to tell you this very thing at this very time … and you each understand what was spoken beyond the words said.

Large stone Fireplace
Cozy fire

Being Enchanted Abroad

Once in Cham, Switzerland, I had an entire day of flawless minutes flowing into hours. Sitting at the end of Lake Zug, I didn’t mind the multitude of ducks and geese and swans flitting about here and there in their odd, waddling way of walking. My general—and unwarranted—distrust of birds went to the wayside as toddlers fed them without incident. Hearing the children’s merriment made us listeners break into easy smiles. The cool water was clear enough to watch the ducks, so elegant off land, do 10-point dives straight down and swim for an impossibly long time before surfacing.

Writing, I was caught up in slipping the words onto paper, and realized that a church bell was donging, a backhoe was running, a radio was blaring. The sounds had been occurring for sometime but I hadn’t heard them—wrapped as I was in the magic of composing my thoughts.

Lake Cham, Switzerland
Cham, Switzerland

Perfect was that lakeside spot with an abundance of runners, cyclists, and strollers. An elderly couple pass before me, holding hands and sharing murmured conversation. It was exchanging the local greeting with an old man using a cane to walk the long path. I tried my newly-learned pronunciation that I can only write phonetically as “Gertz-ing,” with a very long “e.” He laughed, but with knightly finesse tipped fingers to the brim of his hat at my attempted cordiality.

It was being at 1,378 feet on May 21st and seeing two sunbathers wear itty bitty tiny weeny bikinis, stretched out on the green grass of a beautiful park. They soaked in the rays while in the distance three peaks of the Alps reflected bright snow. 

Joy of Travel

Sacred are the uncountable glorious episodes of delight that happen when I’m traveling. True wonderment began during that first excursion with my sister in 2007. We landed at Milan’s Malpensa airport, en route to the Cinque Terre for hiking. We made our way to the front of the airport, Jackie turned to me—the trip planner—asking, “Now what?” To which I responded, “I have no idea.” Previously, Jackie would have been angry with her flying-by-the-seat-of-her-pants younger sister. In this moment, where we were in our lives, she looked at me and laughed. The tone for our adventure was set and we relished ten days of unrepeatable but so-remembered moments.

These many years later, one of us will send the other a photo and add a brief caption, Remember: 

  • The man who serenaded you over lunch on your birthday?
  • Walking into the room at La Torretta Lodge and seeing a stool with Route 66 on it?
  • The glorious colors of buildings throughout the Cinque Terre?
  • Hearing the monks singing at the Capuchin Monastery in Monterosso?

During European travels, I am endlessly pleased by churches and cathedrals hundreds of years old. Wandering into a church, I contemplate the artwork. What painter set the birth of Jesus atop a throne, Mary and Joseph as Anglo Saxon, and decided Jesus was a redhead?

Inside walls absorbing prayers of gratitude and supplication spanning ages—people  in trouble, in celebration, there is peace and gratitude.

Finding the Joy

I acknowledge a perfect moment recognizing the enjoyment here, right, with zero desire to rush to the next thing.

We have different definitions of perfect moments. The times that strike us as precious stem from our backgrounds, our insights, from learning what in life we value.

Life is full of opportunities for perfect moments and ideal days. Open our eyes and our hearts to experience them as they roll by with casual understatement or monumental significance.


Read: Places can be balm for your soul