Cherish the 'Little Moments'

Hello to all the beautiful people out there in the world—both those who I love and those who I have not had the fortune of meeting in person, but through my words in cyberspace. I apologize for not blogging in a long time. It is not due to a lack of desire or a lack of thought; in fact, there are so many constant emotions flowing from my heart to my brain and always a continual flow of ideas from my brain to my heart that I often do not know where to begin in the process of documenting it all. Of course, I always want to share all the beautiful things and disappointments too, but time is challenging, and with so much reading and writing for school, it can be a challenge to justify the time for personal reflection. And as for my academic life, it is an exciting time—albeit stressful and pressure-filled—as I (once again) apply to Doctoral programs this fall. It’s hard to believe two years have past since I went through this process and decided to pursue a Masters first. It’s scary, in a way, how fast it has all gone, and I am learning fast that life does not slow down….in fact, it speeds up very, very rapidly.

However, as it speeds up, our lives are no longer empty jars that we begin to fill with experiences, but with a jar that has many experiences where we pick and choose the experiences that seem relevant or important to use or reflect on. With this in mind, it is important that we don’t just rely on the big events or experiences as the cornerstones of our lives. I look at my impending graduation (hopefully!) this June with a Masters from Columbia University, and I think about the enormity of such an event. And I think about (again, hopefully!) getting admitted to a Ph.D. program and how much of a dream-come-true that will be. As we get older, these are giant moments that we (and appropriately so) begin to ‘look forward’ to and begin to count on, and plan our lives around. We (used to) celebrate the Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, the high school/college graduations, and now we celebrate the weddings, the anniversaries, the engagements, and the birth of great-grand children. These are all ‘big’ moments that, as family and friends, we circle on the calendar and we look forward to sharing in laughter and joy. To have such beautiful milestones—and to be able to cherish them together—in life is a privilege beyond words. These are big moments that leave me in a state emotional comprehension that I have no ability to articulate on a page.

Yet, we must also cherish the ‘little’ moments, too, that happen both in between these large momentous occasions and in the act of celebrating them. It is these moments, that as we get older, we seem to forget and well, look past while we tread along to reach the bigger milestone on the distant horizon. This past weekend I had the fortune to go back ‘home’ to St. Louis, to visit my family, especially see my grandparents and my nephews who were visiting from (my other home of) Los Angeles. Although, unlike the last few years, I had been in St. Louis only a few months before in July, but it is still always special to be home with my grandparents, aunt/uncles, parents and brother and my nephews. It is emotional arriving and even more so, leaving, as we all spread back out around the country, just hoping we all the get the opportunity to come together again. And as I reflect back on the quick weekend, it was all the little moments with my family that made the trip so special despite, for once, the lack of a ‘big’ occasion occurring (although my grandparents did celebrate their 69th anniversary, which is hard to comprehend itself!). Sometimes the most seemingly ‘little’ moments have the biggest emotional impact on our lives, and we tend to just brush them aside; each moment may seem tiny, but when they are pieced together, they become bigger than anything we could have imagined. This past weekend, a number seemingly ‘little’ moments will not leave my conscience anytime soon; for example, sitting around with my aunt and uncles when my 3-year old semi-potty trained nephew says he has to go to the bathroom and everyone looks at me to take him as if its my responsibility as the uncle now! That subtle moment is priceless. Or, for example, take when my mom and I—per my nephew’s request—asked us to take turns reading lines in a book, and my mom pointed to where I was supposed to read until I told her that I was fully capable, as an adult, of following along when she finished the 5-word sentence. These moments are comical, and light, but many hint at the forward-moving pace of life. I think about my short, but poignant, conversation with my uncle as he discussed (as the last of the cousins to leave St. Louis) my two cousins being a way and him and my aunt having an “empty nest” household now, and how it’s strange and bittersweet feeling. It’s more than a conversation, but a moment that when we all celebrate one day their graduations, those graduations become that much more special. I think of my grandma, hugging her great-grandchildren for the first time, and the meaning it has for her. It is talking with my cousin in Chicago whom I haven’t spoken to in a while, but grinning from ear to ear in conversation as if we were not hundreds of miles a part. Above all, I think about my grandpa, who is 89 years old, and who is not only having trouble walking and moving mere feet at a time but trouble staying alert past seven or eight at night, literally pop out of bed, walk down the hall in his underwear, and inexplicably want to join the conversation between my grandma, mom, and I around eleven at night as if he was young again. It’s magical a moment I won’t forget anytime soon—or ever.

Of course, not all of these little moments are happy or pleasant, and many, sadly, are heartbreaking. Seeing the tears—and participating—in those tearful exchanges between family members during various small conversations, reflections, and of course, inevitable goodbyes, is moving, and not always in an inherently ‘good’ way. But these are small moments with a big impact, if we only take the time to recognize their meaning. Our lives may continue to speed up, but it is these little moments that become speedbumps that we must use to reflect on the present with joy and with authenticity. These little moments are what make the big moments so special, because in between these joyous occasions, like my cousin getting married, we bond, cry, laugh, talk, reflect, because we can relate and share the same road connecting us to that big occasion.

When I think about my work in education, I strive to focus on the ‘little’ moments, too. The A+’s on tests are important, helping students graduate and go to college is momentous, but so is the sudden ‘look’ on a students face when he or she understands a concept for the first time. Or hops out of a teacher’s office inspired because of the conversation that ensued. Or a student who is in a nervous-anxious state going to Columbia University for the first time, despite living only blocks away his or her entire life. We must celebrate these moments as much as the high school graduations, because without them, their would be no graduation—without the ‘little’ family moments of love and sadness in the interim years, the marriages and the anniversaries would have little meaning. So once awhile make sure to step back and cherish these ‘little’ moments—hey, they are not as little you think.

In good health and lots and lots of love,