Little moments often define us more so than big ones.
Don’t get me wrong; big moments are definitely important and should be celebrated, discussed, and memorialized.
But the little ones.. the ones that we often experience by ourselves or in the company of a select few, the little ones that pass by in an instant, the little ones that unless we’d looked up in that moment, they would’ve passed by without us even noticing; those are the ones that define us the most.
I vividly remember the first time I learned to experience these little moments and give them just as much, or maybe even more, attention and recognition than the ‘big’ ones.
Let me set the scene:
Sunset on a Saturday in a tropical country, parakeets sing their evening songs as they rush to their favourite sleeping spots. The sun is lazily embracing the hunched hills and tall mango trees are reaching up to brush the last of the sun’s drowsy orange rays. My dad and I are heading home after a day of playing outdoors and taking dips in the public pool. As we ride up a small hill, I notice my dad set his bike against a palm tree and wave me down to do the same.
He holds me close as he looks out at the horizon. “I want you to take a deep breath and be silent,” he says.
Of course, my 8-year old self wanted to get home as quickly as possible since my stomach was making avid complains through low grumbles. But I did as I was told, and took a deep breath.
I heard my fast pulse begin to slow down, I felt the sweat forming on my temples glide down my sticky face, and my palms relaxed, dropping my fingers so I could feel my blood pumping through my fingertips.
He continued, “See, these moments will not be given to you. You have to find them and stop what you’re doing to cherish the colours, the smells, and the sounds that pass by. This sunset may resemble yesterday’s as much as it could resemble tomorrow’s. But what’s important in today’s is that we’re stopping and noticing the deep orange’s and pink’s, the sounds of the leaves fluttering in the wind, the call of the birds as they head home. That’s it: we’re just noticing it and stopping for a few minutes.”
We stood together, giving a moment of silence to the beauty of this particular sunset, on this particular hill, in the warmth of the tropics.
He was teaching me something on that hillside that he had discovered by himself throughout his journeys across the continents, long before I breathed on this Earth.
We headed home, my mom patiently waiting for us as she asked me to set the table for dinner. I took out the plates and turned to ask what was for dinner, when I noticed my father kiss my mom’s forehead, hold her close and ask if anything was missing, to which she smiled and replied, “Nothing’s missing now.”
The little moments have carved me into who I am becoming today.
The little moment of looking at the moon on a cold 2am morning when the world is fast asleep.
The little moment of a bird landing by your table during your lunch break.
Of noticing the dew on a field during a spring morning run, as the sun indolently rises and birds chirp their good mornings.
Of having your favourite song play first when you press ‘Shuffle’.
The smell of fresh cut grass on a Sunday morning.
Or the smell of coffee in a busy coffeeshop at 10am.
The warmth of clean laundry.
And a cat’s purr on your lap as you feel him slowly drifting off to sleep.
Being caught in the rain after gawking at a bright rainbow, feeling the stinging cold drops on your cheeks and the dampness of your clothes, as you seek refuge under a bus stop and smile at the poetic simplicity of ‘joy’.
Even today, my father will stop and hold me, tell me to breathe and be silent. To take in a moment, because before I know it, it’ll be over and life will go on as usual.
A little moment can also be a little victory only you could know about: you’re finally able to touch your toes when you stretch!
Or you finally got that pink orchid you had your eye on.
Or you entered that bookstore you’d always been curious about.
Or maybe you saw an old man on the train, carrying flowers in his arms as he looked out the window and you took a moment to wonder where he was going, if those flowers were for a lover, a grandchild celebrating their new apartment, or just because he wanted to get flowers, for no specific reason other than they’d reminded him of a special moment he experienced countless stories ago, atop a hill blooming with flowers, watching the sun rise over the hills.
These little moments keep us alive, and in love with the warmth of living.
I’m sure you’ve experienced these moments, but we forget in our busy bustling lives. So, I advise you next time you stumble on a moment: stop, breathe, and watch. 30 seconds, 2 minutes, or even 10 whole minutes. It doesn’t matter how long, or where, or with who, just take your time and then go on with your day.
I’m sure you’ll have a subtle smile hanging by the corner of your lips by the end of it, just like I did all those years ago.