LIFE IS MADE UP OF
MANY LITTLE MOMENTS
Walking along the elegant Avenue Libertador with my sister Valerie the other day, I watched as the warm afternoon sun rays spilled over the grass lawn near Plaza Francia, painting the fields a bright emerald green, a tone so beautiful it took my breath away.
I stood watching for a few moments, open-mouthed and wide-eyed, as I marveled in the beauty of the instance.
I turned to my sister, my eyes dancing brightly with the sudden revelation I had.
“You know,” I told her, “Life really is made up of an indefinite number of moments.”
I felt my heart race a little faster.
It was one of those “a-ha!” instances when I was so excited to be sharing my view, with one of my favorite people in the world. Looking straight at her, I said in one long breath,
“You see, since life is made up of an entire string of tiny and different moments, if we delighted in as many moments as we could, we’d live a very contented and happy life!”
When I was still a little girl, I used to think,
“One day when I become famous, popular and beautiful, or when I eventually write my very own best-selling book, I’ll finally be happy.”
So I started a scrapbook where I pasted magazine cut-outs of beautiful women who I so desperately wanted to look like (I didn’t realize back then that the photos might have been photoshopped). I spent a large part of my teenage years reading the Sweet Valley High book series wishing I could have been born blond-hair and blue-eyed instead of Asian with yellow skin and black hair. I tore out adjectives from magazines that I’d wish could be used to describe myself – words like “charming”, “popular”, “pretty”, “intelligent” – and as I filled out that thick scrapbook in my early teens, envisioning myself in the future, I imagined a life of happiness and love, when I’d become the perfect woman I’d dreamed of in my scrap book.
Did you ever think along those lines?
Maybe you had different goals – perhaps you dreamed of becoming a pop star, just like Lady Gaga; or to be the first of your friends to climb Mount Everest; or be a doctor so you could save people’s lives – but did it ever cross your mind that you could only be happy and contented in life if those goals were achieved?
Throughout my terribly impressionable teenage years, I strove to become the person who I thought I had to be in order to be accepted by others, by my friends at school, or for boys to like me.
I tried imitating the way the popular girls at school walked; I pulled my socks up high when it was trendy, and bought ankle socks the day other girls started donning them. I bought clothes which everyone else seemed to be wearing (just to keep up with the latest fashion trends), and I had my hair cut the way it was fashionable, yet I still didn’t feel happy.
Later, in my University years, I decided that if I couldn’t be pretty and popular, I’d replace looks with intelligence.
I adopted finance lingo to sound sophisticated and smart; I read articles to keep up with my peers, especially the investment bankers and economists in my field; I desperately wanted to sound intelligent and sharp. I dressed to impress, in corporate attire and smart shirts, I yearned to be successful and get internships that would wow my friends. I was constantly trying to be someone else, someone better, because I thought that once I became that person, I would be accepted by others, and I would be happy.
The thing is, I later found out – through my own experience and observation – that it really wasn’t about being pretty or intelligent or whatever adjective that would bring me contentment.
I’ve realized that it was being grateful for the little things you have, or looking at the magic in the smallest moments, or seeing the beauty instead of the mess that is the secret to being happy.
I mean happy in the weirdest ways – like the laugh-till-your-abs-hurt happy; or the smile-from-the-inside-out happy; and really, just amazingly happy.
I’m finally starting to understand that now.
IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS
THAT MAKE UP A BIG LIFE
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of reading Ashley’s letter to her little daughter Ivy, a letter filled with so much emotion, common sense and practical advice.
The lengthy note ended in the sweetest way,
“Also, don’t ever let the magic of a butter, flour, salt and yeast transforming into a luxurious loaf that we then slather with sticky and tart apricot jam not impress you. Stand at the window of the oven with your daughter, someday, and show her that magic.”
“It’s little things like this that add up to a big life.”
I read the note with my heart in my mouth, almost tearing as I came to the end, because the letter reminded me to take hold of these little things that adorn our lives, to look at them with deserved concentration, and give thanks for them.
I’d love to think that even if I’m not a best-selling author, or the perfect girl I’d so much wished to be, my life is still big and large and great because of all those tiny things which make it up.
Little things such as the pink and blue hues in the sky which remind me of fluffy cotton candy and turning ferris wheels, and of pop corn and fun fairs. Or the gentle rustling of leaves in the trees, bringing to mind the songs of pixies and fairies. Or the twinkling of the only visible star in the dark, velvet night sky.
My hope is that, when you feel down or lousy about yourself, if you think your life has no reason or purpose because you haven’t met a milestone you’ve set, or that you can’t be happy until you’ve gotten a big house, a flashy car, or a Tuscan holiday in Italy (like I so often feel), you’ll remember this.
Go out and enjoy the littlest moments, and treasure the littlest things.
And remember that it’s the little things that make up a big life.