“I believe that life is a journey, often difficult and sometimes incredibly cruel, but we are well equipped for it if only we tap into our talents and gifts and allow them to blossom.” ~ Les Brown
I suspect you’ve had many big moments in your life. Perhaps a significant graduation; the birth of a first child; Paris for your 25th anniversary. But do you remember the small moments, the ones that flash before your eyes? Quite often, it is those tiny moments that are far more significant – like wiping a tear from your grandmother’s eye when she buried your grandfather or actually listening to someone distraught about a matter you couldn’t affect.
Have you ever known someone whose personal challenges didn’t prevent them from supporting those around her/him? Were you aware that her/his suffering enabled them to be even more of an emotional bedrock for others? Maybe it has something to do with their having gained perspective on the important ‘stuff’ – things that really matter.
Not everything matters, though we mistakenly think it does. I invite you to reflect on the small, significant moments that have made up your life. Not summiting Mount Fuji but breaking bread with a homeless person. Try to remember. Think about what you saw, what you heard, what you felt. What was really happening in those moments? Even more importantly, what did they do for someone else?
You’ve likely been invited to answer this question: If you could plan it, how would you spend your last day on Earth? Spending some time with this exercise (by writing down your ideas) will help you focus and yield perspective on what really matters most to you. The question is fairly generic, but your answers will be telling. Dr. Kent Keith in The Paradoxical Commandments said, “Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.” Keith also said, “Give the world the best you have and you might get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.”
People search for what is meaningful in their lives, especially when they are broken, confused, frustrated, or simply bored with life. If you’re not passively part of a moment, you’re creating moments. And many of them are small, seemingly insignificant. But to others, they may be huge!
In a 2011 conversation, a chronologically gifted woman taught me that no matter what I end up doing with my life, I ought to make it significant. Even if your body or your mind is tearing itself apart, consider engaging your senses – your gifts. Start by being present. Look into people’s eyes and see them. Ask what matters to them. And celebrate moments with them.
In my work I invite people to look at their own lives and the day-to-day activities that fill them. Then I ask: How many of those activities have really mattered in terms of the true reason for your existence? (And yes, I recognize this depends on one’s definition of “true reason.”)
One simple suggestion today, an old-fashioned one… Consider demonstrating the importance of a relationship by calling someone just to see how they’re doing. To be honest, I receive very few calls from people who don’t have a self-serving agenda. Those who do call because they genuinely care about me, stand out. Think about it, how often do people call (not text or email) you just to say hi or to find out what’s going on in your life? Your call may end up being a significant moment for them.