Moments… Big and Small

“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.

41 thoughts on “Moments… Big and Small

  1. I’m becoming ‘chronologically gifted’ and remember hearing a phone’s ring as a reason to run and answer it.
    I like your idea, although I admit feeling too cautious to post my phone number on a website. 🙂

  2. What rich lives we’d all lead if everyone took inventory of whether what they do day to day matters, and striving to make it so? This is so inspiring, for us to remember that the big picture in the end is comprised of smaller, meaningful choices, daily.

  3. How would I spend my last day on this Earth? I think it would not be filled with activities, it would be me thinking and finding in my thoughts why my life here was good, how I have loved and expressed that love to those around me and the wider world. I would like that day to end by me saying to myself: I have had a good life and I have helped others feel good about themselves and for those who by my accounts have not been good I hope my message to them to that effect will bring them to be able to say to themselves what I would say to myself.

    • I am always warmed by how others would choose to spend their last day on earth. While each of us cites unique approaches to what we might do, what seems consistent is our choosing to reflect and express gratitude – just as you have, Ina. When we pause to consider our lives, I believe many of us would acknowledge that, as have you, we have (and will continue to have!) good lives. Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

  4. Fantastic thought, beautifully expressed! Eric, you seem to understand emotions very well! How right you are… We often forget the little joys…those unplanned moments which just happen and pass into oblivion. I tried to gather a few and imagine those, which didn’t leave any marks on the sand of time. Thanks for stirring the old, forgotten memories.

    • I am warmed, Balroop, that you created time and space to recall some of your forgotten memories. It truly is the little moments and joys (I like your word). Thank you for your kind sharing.

  5. Eric, these words especially resonated with me. “Start by being present. Look into people’s eyes and see them. Ask what matters to them. And celebrate moments with them.” Being with someone and really seeing them can be the greatest gift we can give. Val x

  6. Hi Eric, – great words of wisdom I will also claim as my own – very consistent with my own fundamental values and principles. There can be great good derived from terrible experiences – even if this alone is the experience it provides which allows our own perspectives to be widened.

    Helps us to empathise, understand and relate to those around us who have experienced something similar,

    The sense of isolation ‘Am I the ONLY one who has been through this, who feels like this’…

    Yes – BE present, wonderful advice… truly try to understand and genuinely listen.

    Thanks for sharing….


    • ML, it’s always good to have a new reader create time to share warming feedback. Thank you. I took a quick look at your blog, easily chose to follow it, and look forward to reading/’hearing’ more of your perspectives. Had to smile when I read your ‘About’ page… you like shoes. Time and interest permitting, read my ‘About’ page. 🙂

    • Thanks for hitting the nail on its head. Your comment succinctly captures the post’s essence. Unsolicited, I would insert the word “would” in lieu of “might” in you second sentence. 🙂

  7. Pingback: Wired to Connect? | writing to freedom

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