Things that make life worth living, are the ones that we wake up for every morning, the ones that we think about while trying to get through a hard task, the ones that make us smile—the ones that happen in a second.
I believe in the potential of small things to bring true gold to the large. Through my short life’s experiences, worthwhile things were the ones that stood out, subtly out of the ordinary. Each moment makes the difference—not the whole day, not the last minute, but the few precious seconds of unexpected excitement.
As a man climbs a mountain, he talks later of the long journey, the sore foot that nagged him along the way—but, his true reason for telling his story, later, is to think, another time, about the moment that he saw the summit, that he was chased by a bear, that he saw the rock so close, and revered it—no longer as one more mountain, but for what it truly is—as the separate pieces of colored rock that make the mountain up. After a while, “amazing” scenery starts to look the same, but look close up, find what makes it different—the things that perplex the mind—that is what makes it worthwhile.
This perspective isn’t natural, we have to exploit it. My journey started when I was two years old, packed off like an overused toy, cast-away so easily because the “new baby” had come along. There I was, left off, watching as my mom waved so happily driving away. In my 2 year old child’s mind, it was like being sent to off to a maximum security prison, the proverbial “Sing-Sing,” I found myself at pre-school, no longer surrounded by my warm home. Taken by prison guards to the room—I remember looking around, frantic, searching desperately for a way out of this miniaturized torture chamber. A syrupy, overly-happy song burbled out of a tape player. I imagined the singer—dancing around in a polka-dot clown suit, juggling turquoise popcorn balls, singing, specifically to make a person go insane.
And then it happened, contact with the other world, my whole life would change from this moment forward—there he stood, looking like an overgrown St. Bernard, dressed in overalls and a wrinkled plaid shirt, the man who would shed light on a path seldom taken. “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” I learned every moment makes the difference as we wound our way through old barns to field trips in town—always talking, never missing anything, examining every detail—he had me get down on my hands and knees and dig in the dirt—a life lesson tied into every instant; learning to learn, learning to look—learning to enjoy each moment.
These small moments give the spark of life to the monotone of my day. Now, as I sit lazily, half asleep in the car, after a long day at school, I reflect on what I have to do; inevitably, I freak, “Ahhhh, I have tons of homework,!” But then, there comes a moment—I slap myself and scream silently, “Whoa, look at all the amazing things I got to do today!!”
Each day—I reflect on the day’s journey, things that seem boring and dull become more interesting—I remember the minute things that make life worth living, the ones to wake up to, that make me smile, the ones that happen in a second—it’s the journey. I believe in the potential of small things to bring true gold to the large.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.