Life that Works: They Are All Small Moments

February 15th, 2011

“Life is made up of moments, small pieces of glittering mica in a long stretch of gray cement. It would be wonderful if they came to us un-summoned, but particularly in lives as busy as the ones most of us lead now, that won’t happen. We have to teach ourselves how to make room for them, to love them, and to live, really live.”  -Anna Quinlen

It is the small moments in life that create our relationships, form our personalities, and eventually become the foundation for our memories. I learned this today at the memorial service for Conner Ausland, one of the boys who was recently swept into the ocean and drowned. Everything that was conveyed about the warmth of his attention, his genuine curiosity and expansive talents were all shared in the anecdotal stories of the many moments that he shared with people he loved.

Raising children breaks life down into small moments like nothing in the grown-up world could have ever prepared me for. Babies,  toddlers, elementary school children are all captured in snapshots in our memories because even though the days sometimes would drag on forever, the truth is that the years fly by.  The business of growing up, the magical process of people becoming themselves, is  a story of moments. At once, so slow as to be imperceptible and yet at the same time so rapid, that suddenly a baby is a toddler, is a kindergartner, is a middle schooler…  Looking back you can sometimes witness the huge leaps that are made,  but moving forward, there is nothing but the moment.

The Ausland family was paying attention to their moments, reveling and capturing the living room dance routines,  the 2nd grade dance routines,  the groggy waking after wisdom tooth extraction. They were loving all the moments and each other. Remembering them with all the people who came to say good bye to him today gave the moments, which were once mundane, just part of another day – a surreal magical quality. When we lose the people we love, we miss the whole of them, even what we once found difficult.

The small moments in life is all there is. There really isn’t anywhere we are getting to, there is just the paying attention when we are in it, loving and forgiving the people who inhabit our world. Taking pictures and recording the moments so that one day, when it is all over, it will be crystal clear to all who look that your life was the most we can all hope for- a rich collection of small moments fully inhabited. Amen.

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