Facebook marks our lives by “events.” Becoming friends with a person, starting school, taking a trip, beginning a relationship; these are the things that we mark as the big moments. We mere mortals tend to mistake the big moments for the most important ones—we correlate the magnitude of the event with its critical nature in our life. Getting married is taking a huge life step. Moving to another state to go to school is a big deal. Landing your dream job is enormous. But it is all of the little moments are are preparing us for the big ones.
What we don’t realize is that there aren’t any LARGE gaping holes in our lives. Instead there are tiny little holes all over our timelines like Swiss cheese: opportunities passed by, roads not taken, phone calls not made, books not read, countries unvisited, hobbies not learned, afternoons squandered. A midlife crisis looms on the horizon for all who have not lived their lives well every single day. One day the dissatisfaction piles up so high that it manifests in an illogical and unsatisfying way: an affair, an outrageous car, a radical religious conversion. This is a knee-jerk reaction to a problem that didn’t show up overnight. If we put off doing the dishes or calling our grandmother or doing a favor for a friend or going the extra mile for someone who needs it, every single time, one day there is a big pile of character building moments left on the table of our life. What if we filled some of these in? What if we filled in 75% of them? What if we stopped making excuses because we were tired or it wasn’t our turn or we just didn’t feel like it? What if we stopped making exceptions for ourselves, (exceptions we don’t make for other people)?
Stopping to smell the roses isn’t necessarily a disposition one is born with, it is a decision that each individual must choose to make—or not. We wretched creatures get it wrong; we put the big moments on the pedestal and the little every day moments in the back of our minds. Ignoring the small things means that we don’t get to really enjoy the big things though. To use a school analogy, if you don’t do your homework, it might not matter what you get on the final.
No one learned to play an instrument or speak a language by picking up a guitar once or skimming a “Spanish for Dummies” book. Skills are acquired through practice and discipline; trying and failing. Human beings have a remarkable amount of potential, but they also have a record of leaving a cringeworthy amount of this potential untapped. You are alive—and while there is life there is hope; hope for change, hope for redemption, hope for a second chance, hope for forgiveness, hope for growth, hope for peace. Breathe in and breathe out. Take it in. These are the seconds of your life that you will wish you had back if you allow them to go untapped.
The length of one’s life does not define the quality of life that is lived. It requires a constant vigilance and determination to get the most out of life. Go make lemonade! Carpe all the diems! Don’t let the moments roll off of you, take them in.