One of my favorite writers/authors is journalist Bob Greene. During the summer, some of my favorite books make their way into my reading rotation, four of which are by Greene.
One of his books is When We Get To Surf City: A Journey Through America In Pursuit of Rock and Roll, Friendship and Dreams. In a nutshell, the book chronicles his time spent touring with the legendary Jan and Dean and Surf City All Stars during a few summers.
Greene perfectly encapsulated both the idea of holding on to each little piece of summer and the importance of living our life’s best moments. From 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 seashell or rock from where I am, write the date on it with a Sharpie when I get home, and put it in my seashell memory jar. In addition to taking the pebbles out and using them, like Greene describes, I also add memories to my jar.
In my jar are dated treasures from walks with my nephew, a rock from Stonehenge, some pebbles from Ireland, a few shells from Florida and our own beaches, and more. Each one holds a special place in my heart.
I am eternally grateful for the shells and pebbles I have spent, the memories I have collected, and the shells and pebbles left in my jar.
My wish to you is that YOU savor every day and every summer night. Use a shell, spend a pebble, then replace it with a memory.
Author’s note: This was originally posted in August of 2015. I updated it today, 7/20/16.