We're always told to carpe diem (seize the day!), especially as parents of young children (enjoy every second!), but a day is a long time to try to wrangle any control over. A moment, though, feels more attainable. And Heather shared with me the expression:
Instead of trying to seize an entire day, we can hope to grasp a moment. One moment at a time.
Chronos is clock time; kairos is the way time feels. Moments rather than measured time. And more than any old moment: the perfect moment. When chronos time slips away, and time stops for a moment, that's kairos.
I hope we've all experienced this. You're walking along and notice something beautiful—sunlight pouring through trees, a smile, a melody, whatever moves you—and time stops for a moment.
At best, a perfect moment gives you the feeling that all is right with the world. That everything is going to be okay. You can exhale and let everything else go.
One of my favorite kairos experiences was sitting in an open tree house in Thailand high over swaying palm trees watching the water sparkle in the distance below. Time didn't exist.
And seizing it even feels too forceful, too harsh. My goal now is simply to be paying attention, to be present and aware enough so that when a blip of kairos happens (my four-year-old suddenly snuggles up to me and says, "I love you, Mama," or my one-year-old claps and squeals with glee when she sees me), instead of being distracted or worse, irritated by an interruption (cringe!), I can stop and breathe in that love and hug my girls and feel gratitude for that moment.
These moments may last but seconds, but they feed our souls and can sustain us through the days when life (and chronos) weigh us down. These are the moments that make a life.
So, let's not try to carpe diem today. Let's tone it down a bit and carpe kairos instead.