This I Believe

Travis - Fort Worth, Texas
Entered on October 23, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: gratitude
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This I Believe

Travis Mann

I believe in the power of the everyday to make unimaginable differences in our lives in ways we cannot comprehend in a particular moment.

In fact, I believe we may never be able to fully comprehend what these ordinary moments do to us.

The other day, the woman I love napped as I watched her two boys play video games, each one working to beat the other at a game they must have played a hundred times before. After an hour or so – sometimes playing well together, sometimes yelling – they became bored. The older one, Taylor, asked if I would help him with his math homework; the younger one, Ty, began flying off in his imagination, playing with toy airplanes we’d bought at the air show the previous day. Taylor and I worked our way through tricky math questions designed to teach a fifth grader (and confound the average adult), stumbling ultimately upon questions dealing with the metric system. As we worked on these problems, Ty climbed up into my lap, wrapping his legs around mine, taking my hand in his. He leaned against my chest as we talked about how many centimeters might be in the average pencil. Taylor asked questions, many times merely thinking aloud, sometimes leaning against my leg, sometimes scribbling in his book. We sat for 10 minutes or so, a man, two boys talking about meters and centimeters and millimeters.

And in that moment I didn’t even notice what was happening.

A few days later, I began to think about the experience. The moment was so natural, so normal. And so extraordinary. These boys were not my natural children, but they had become my children. In that most everyday moment of talking about the metric system, a child sitting on my lap, his brother leaning against me, I received a gift that has profoundly affected me. The connections we made that day reverberate through me, and that memory – the value of that memory – cannot be measured in wealth or power or against any gauge that measures quantity. It can only be measured in quality of living, in cherished moments of the everyday.

It was one of the most unremarkable, remarkable moments in my life.

Recognizing everyday moments requires us to pay attention every day. I fail at this skill daily. And I believe most of us miss many things we’re meant to see. But sometimes something larger than us makes us keenly aware of those moments after they’ve passed. If we’re unlucky, we miss these moments; if we’re lucky, we see these moments in hindsight and understand how deeply the everyday touches us every day.