One of my favorite writers/authors is journalist Bob Greene. I have been a fan since I was in high school, a mere 26-plus years ago.
During the summer, some of my favorite books make their way into my reading rotation, four of which are by Greene (and yes, I’m a HUGE creature of habit and most times would rather re-read a book I’ve read a hundred times rather than read something new…one of my many quirks…and it’s tough to read for pleasure during the school year).
Anyway, one of the books I re-read in June is “When We Get To Surf City: A Journey Through America In Pursuit of Rock and Roll, Friendship and Dreams” by Greene. In a nutshell, the book chronicles his time spent touring with the legendary Jan and Dean and Surf City All Stars each summer. However, one page really encapsulated both the idea of holding on to each little piece of summer and to the importance of living our life’s best moments. Greene writes on pages 313-314:
“Once someone told me that we should regard the best moments in our lives as pebbles in a jar. The assumption should be that the pebbles are finite – even if we can’t count them by looking into the jar, we should assume that one day they will run out. We should withdraw them with care, one by one, never doing it by rote or distractedly. If we withdraw them too rapidly, we are being greedy, and will hasten the day when they are gone; if we hoard them, if we are miserly in keeping them in the jar, then we will rob ourselves of the experiences the good things should give us.
So it is with summers. If all of life were summer, then our world would have no texture, no context. Summer would not taste the way it does if we thought it would last forever. There’s no perfect way to remove the pebbles, no foolproof timetable. The closest we can come to perfection is to know just how precious those pebbles are, and to value each one.
I know that Jan [Berry] did. More than anyone I think I have ever known, he never took a single one of those pebbles for granted. He withdrew each one of them from life’s jar with gratitude, and with love.
The plane lifted off. Savor every day, every summer night.” (Greene, Bob. When We Get To Surf City: A Journey Through America in Pursuit of Rock and Roll, Friendship and Dreams. New York: St. Marten’s Press, 1998.)
When I want to really remember a moment, I will take a rock or a seashell from where I am, write the date on it with a Sharpie when I get home, and put it in my memory jar. In addition to taking the pebbles out and using them, like Greene describes, I also add trinkets that are now memories to my jar.
For the pebbles I have spent, the memories I have collected, and the pebbles left in my jar, I am eternally grateful.
With only a few weeks left in summer, my wish to you is that YOU savor every day, and every summer night. Use a pebble, then replace it as a memory.
Until next time,