Seize the moment

guest post Oct 15, 2023

Please enjoy this guest post from David Steen who is an active part of the Platform Launchers Members' Club.  To learn more about his most recent book, please visit:

Moments in time come and go, day in and day out. Surrounded by ordinary moments, we go
about our days mostly watching a lot of the same things occurring, over and over. Last Saturday
we decided to step away from the ordinary. We gathered some of the kids and we went hiking.

About an hour from home is Lake Fort Smith State Park, a destination we’ve found pleasurable
from time to time when the kids were younger. We made plans, decided on a departure time,
packed a light lunch, and headed to the woods. It had been years since we had been there, so we
thought it would be a good time to get a refresher on a portion of the trails we had been on in the
past. The exception was, we were prepared to go further than we had before. In years past, we
were probably carrying some of the kids on our backs, or walking slowly holding their hands!
They are now quite grown, so it may wind up being them carrying us. Ha! We had set aside
enough time to make it a good outing without being in some mad rush to get back home.

We arrived at the park after an adventurous drive, our fifteen-year-old being the one behind the
wheel. She is our last child in a long line of kids to receive her driver training. Indeed, there were
some moments on the curvy, mountainous road that rivaled the excitement of a roller coaster at a
theme park. But we made it there in one piece!

Stopping in at the world-class visitor center, compliments of our tax dollars, we were happy to
take a bathroom break after the drive, let the kids roam the gift shop, and retrieve a map of the
trail. The trailhead from which we started was the beginning of a very long trail system, the
Ozark Highlands Trail, which stretches for hundreds of miles across the state through the Ozark
Mountains. We weren’t sure how many miles we would hike, but we were committed to putting
in five or six hours.

As our family dynamic has changed over the years, we have been learning to seize each and
every moment we can get to spend time with the kids. We are living with the realization that they
will be gone soon, living their own lives and making it more challenging to connect. So, we must
seize the moments when they come.

Hiking we went, down the narrow rocky trail through the woods. Up and down various
elevations, we observed a mixture of mossy, vine-covered trees, rock formations, and lake scenes
along the way as gentle breezes pushed us along. We were in our happy place, walking and
talking along the way, just enjoying our freedom from life’s daily struggles.

We passed a couple of old abandoned homesteads along the way, the main evidence being
beautiful rock chimneys still intact that had likely been built a hundred years earlier. Soon, we
found a huge rock the size of a house that towered above the lake and settled in to have our
picnic lunch in the shade. Before long, our famished bodies were refueled and we were ready to
continue the journey. Having studied the map, we determined to hike to the Frog Bayou crossing
and then turn back, a reasonable distance for our day hike.

Not long after we got moving again, over to the left I caught a glimpse of a magnificent tree
which had a long root growing along the ground, jutting out about twenty feet toward our
pathway and covered in emerald green moss. It was like a picture out of a storybook. I paused for a moment, made a mental note, and continued on with the others. I was determined to take a
picture of that tree when we returned later.

Pressing onward for quite a distance, we finally made our way to our predetermined turnaround
point, a rocky creek crossing that was quite low due to dry conditions. We wandered around
there a bit, took some pictures, and decided it was time to turn back. At that time, we parted ways
for a while. The kids wanted to walk along the creek for a ways and join up with us down the
trail, and Katrina and I took the conservative route and went back the way we came.

As we strolled along, talking, taking pictures of scenery along the way, and taking our time, I had one
picture in mind – the emerald-root tree. We hiked along for what seemed like an eternity, keeping
an awareness of the kid’s location while I was also looking for the perfect photo op. Finally, I
spotted it.

There it was. And there it wasn’t.

The scene I had experienced a couple of hours earlier was gone forever. While part of the tree was
somewhat like I had seen it, the sun had moved after a couple of hours, creating a horrible mix of
sun and shadow that made the picture of lesser value. I tried to get a picture, but at the end of it
all, it was just not the same. The moment had passed. It felt like one of those epic movie scenes
where the characters wait for some exact moment in time for the sun to shine on some exact spot
to make some message appear or a door open. I had missed it.

Deflated from my missed opportunity and my aching out-of-shape feet, we continued on, met up
with the kids, made our way back to the car, and headed home for the evening. We were feeling
pretty proud, though, that we had hiked at least six miles. We were beat, tired, ready to be back
on flat ground and in our easy chairs, feet up.

After all was said and done, I did, in fact, miss one photograph that I will soon forget. But the
prize of the day was that we were able to create some fond memories with our two youngest that
we will all remember for years to come. At fifteen and seventeen, they will soon be choosing
their own paths, moving on to other things and other adventures.

We seized the moment. We seized the day.

© David Steen, 2023

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