Thursday, March 23, 2017

Every Day Is "The Last Time Ever"

I'm back from my annual trip to the Children's Literature Festival sponsored by the University of Central Missouri, in Warrensburg. This was the 49th year of the festival, and I believe it was my 20th year of attending. Held during the university's spring break, the festival takes over the entire campus, bringing in dozens of authors to talk to thousands of children/parents/teachers bused in from all over western Missouri and eastern Kansas.

The festival now has a new, young, energetic director, with ideas galore for moving forward into the festival's next half-century. Already change was in the air: lots of fabulous new authors participating this year, and correspondingly fewer returnees - maybe half-and-half old-and-new.

We still observed beloved traditions.

The ardent walkers in the group had our Sunday morning "walk to see the cows":
After a busy day of talking to young readers on Monday, we headed off to Brown's Shoe Fit, the old-timey downtown shoe store, for our shoe-buying spree:
And, of course, we adored having the chance to talk with so many kids who love reading books as much as we love writing them.Here, two members of the group who wore the best T-shirts I saw at the festival:
But I did have a sense of prophetic melancholy. This time many of my dearest festival friends weren't there: some no longer living, some no longer traveling, some not invited back this time. Next year, that could be me.

Savoring a twinge of sadness, I exclaimed to two author friends, as we stood in the lobby of the university's beautiful library: "This may be the last time the three of ever stand in this exact same spot talking together!"

One of them said: "Um, Claudia? This is actually the FIRST time the three of us have ever stood in this exact same spot talking together." And she was right.

EVERY moment is the first-ever moment just like itself, and the last-ever, too. It's true that those Warrensburg cows do look awfully familiar, year after year. But each time I've walked to greet them with a different assortment of companions, and even the same friends have new stories to share as we catch up on the year that has passed since the previous cow pilgrimage.

So there isn't any point in grieving over the inevitable fleetingness of each moment's pleasures. EVERY moment will pass and never come again. I might as well savor EVERY moment for itself, as I'm living it.

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