Essay: A Plea for Small Moments

It is said that life is not made up of the number of breaths we take, but the number of moments that take our breath away.

This is true.

It is also undeniably false.

How often are we to see the love of our life as a vision in white? How often are we to be that vision? Tell me how many times you’ve been in awe of a storm that shook the ground you stood upon. When was the last time a view made you realize your insignificance, or a song tore your soul and brought you to tears?

These moments are few, and quite possibly very far between. I wholeheartedly encourage you to seek those moments, to go through life breathless, but when taking stock of your successes and failures, when reviewing your life as a whole, forget not the little things.

All of life is comprised of microscopic seconds that are gone before conscious thought can comprehend time’s fleeting nature. The time it took you to read that sentence is now gone forever. Did that take your breath away? Probably not, but yet you’re still alive, still a living, breathing, experiencing, statistical impossibility.

Here you are.

Incredible, isn’t it?

And here you are, lying awake in the dead of night, hearing your partner snore softly beside you. They shift in the dark, moving to wrap their arms around you, releasing a contented sigh as they pull you closer.

And here you are, watching TV on a lazy afternoon, when the whimper of your dog in his sleep arouses your attention. He’s startled himself awake, and in his sleepy confusion as the nightmare departs and reality sets in, he seeks the comfort he knows: you.

And here you are in the relief of the spring sun, soaking the warmth through your eyelids, inhaling the scent of new life with the same fervor a dehydrated man would treat a glass of water, and you ponder the impossibility of a bad mood on days such as this.

And here you are on the bus to work, lost in the music in your ears. You glance up as the bus comes to a stop, and watch passively as passengers embark and disembark. It dawns on you that these are not mere vacant faces, not simply empty shells filling the spaces in your existence. No, these are humans, with their human jobs and human families, with their own emotions and motivations, their own heartbreaks and battles, and the realization makes you feel just a little dizzy.

And here you are, walking along the city streets, caught in the rain. Cars pass by you, sloshing through puddles, their headlights bobbing as the tires bounce along the street. You notice in the falling light that you are alone on the sidewalk, alone save for the cigarette butts washing into the gutter.

And here you are, inexplicably smiling.

Life contains big moments, it’s true: the elation of a new love; the despair of a heartbreak; the summer nights spent watching the stars; the day of your wedding; the birth of your child; the view from the Eiffel Tower or the Grand Canyon. You’ll never forget those breathless moments, nor should you.

By all means, chase waterfalls and fall in love and quit your job to hitchhike around Europe. Carpe the hell out of this diem, because who knows when you’re going to get another chance to lose your breath?

But when you do stop to inhale, take stock of the in-betweens, the almosts, the not-quite-breathless seconds that comprise life.

Here you are, a living, breathing, experiencing, statistical impossibility.

Incredible, isn’t it?


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