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First, Last and Everything In Between

Jeff Linamen

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I took advantage of the weather early this past week and began the arduous task of prepping the flower beds and started mulching around the trees and shrubs. This is something I really love doing, even though it takes a lot of time and effort to do it all.

I couldn’t help but think of the Frances Hodgson Burnett children’s book, The Secret Garden, which is one of my all-time favorite stories. Particularly, when Mary discovers the hidden garden and begins clearing away the brush and leaves allowing the tiny buds of spring to catch their first glimpses of sunshine. In the story, the garden symbolizes healing and rebirth. Often, when I’m doing this, I’ll find the song, A Bit of Earth (from the musical version of the book) playing over and over in my head.

I’d had cleared a good-sized area, pulled out hundreds of maple tree seedlings and was spreading mulch as Cash came sauntering over to me, sniffing around the damp soil and butting into my space. He got right in my face, grabbing my attention and looking in my eyes, he snorted and started licking my face. When he was done, I gave him a couple quick pats and rubbed his coat. Then he was off, settling nearby in a warm spot, enjoying the sun.

It was a moment.

be-happy1This wasn’t the first time this has happened. In fact, I can’t begin to count the number of times Cash or Roxie had done this over the years. No matter how often it happened, it has never ceased to touch my heart and make me smile. For that brief moment, it brings me back to reality from my daydreaming and we connect. Then off they’d go to explore.

Having lost Roxie a few months ago, these precious little moments are especially dear. I couldn’t help wondering as Cash wandered off the other day, would that be the last time? Sad? Yes. Morbid? Maybe. The point is that it was just one of those seemingly common occurrences that we don’t always appreciate or think about until they’re gone.

This started me thinking… of all the important events in our lives, we naturally tend to remember the firsts and lasts the most. First meeting, first kiss, first concert… graduating, closing night of a play or saying goodbye to someone special— What we really risk missing are all those special moments in between.

We are always in such a rush to get from Point A to Point B that we miss, or fail to appreciate, everything in between.

The in between is the journey. We experience so much in our travels and often learn so much—there can be many successes and failures along the way– it would be a shame to forget what got us to our destination.

We meet new people and sometimes instantly click. In other instances, friendships build over time. In either case, the in between becomes the history that can bind us together or eventually drive us apart.

I spent many years working with students in high school theatre, the goal, of course, is to put on a good production. Many students would prefer to skip right from audition to performance but it’s the rehearsal process that hopefully teaches them skills and develops their abilities to portray their characters convincingly. During rehearsals– the in between— Friendships and trust often develop along the way. The in between colors, not only the resulting performance but potentially the rest of their lives.

I’ve worked so much on the the technical end of productions, my in between was consumed with many hours building and painting scenery and sometimes unexpectedly, building some important friendships. You learn a lot about a person working with them side by side. There’s often a lot of laughter, stories and maybe a few tears mixed in with all those hours of hard work. In the long run, the by product of the experience can be more valuable than the impact of the performance itself. There are in between moments I remember now, quite vividly, for productions that are all but gone from my memory.

I’ve found, especially when I’m feeling stressed, how important a quiet moment of reflection can be. Stopping what you’re doing, taking a breath and taking a look around can be very cathartic. It is surprising how different everything can look in a simple, quiet moment. It’s often brought me a calming peace and sometimes a pure moment of clarity.

An unimportant, simple moment— in between— can suddenly seem like the most important moment of all.


I moved my computer out to the table on the front porch while I was writing this. Cash just came up on the porch after barking at a passing dog and his owner and has now settled down. He is laying with his head resting on his paws, eyes closed, on the welcome mat.

He’s sleeping now.

There’s a light breeze and birds are chirping noisily in the background. A relatively unimportant moment— but a moment that feels so precious and alive.

Don’t miss those moments. Those moments in between.

Embrace them, cherish them… and don’t let the rush to Point B blind you to what is really important…

This moment.

1 Comment

  1. Susan says:

    Hey, Jeff . . . you are a true poet !


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