This one is for Beth, Carrie, Amy & Katie.
Watching Facebook, I’ve seen a fair few comments about the shallowness (harsh term, I know, or lack of depth) of recent posts. Which, I can understand.
I’ve also found myself feeling sad that very often those Facebook memories that pop up, take you back to a time when we used to write on each other’s walls and almost interact as humans (albeit online). Now it seems we’re simply reposting trending articles and sharing humorous pictures, arb celebrity statements or competition entires (nothing wrong with that – I love winning a good compo).
But something new struck me yesterday morning when my friend Carrie posted an Instagram pic online, and it’s this: how the most beautiful and profound things are often hidden within the little (seemingly normal) things. It’s not so much the artistically enhanced Madonna quote, or the breaking news about the worlds biggest sandpit, it’s the glimpses into people’s lives – and the small, quite regular activities that are real and beautiful and emotion-stirring.
Of my 4 closest Regent-wives-turn-moms who were a huge part of my community in Vancouver (we all had our kids together), Carrie is last one standing and is due to bid Vancouver farewell in the upcoming weeks. The end of an era. And yesterday morning, when this beautiful friend posted a pic of her 6 month old daughter on a picnic blanket in Almond Park with a Grounds For Coffee cinnamon bun, my heart was stirred. It was simple, normal and deeply rich – an experience anyone who has memories of a certain place will understand.
Because when you embrace it fully, I find that life really is made up of very many small moments. And those small things really matter.
Thinking about this on my way into work that morning, I swung past the post office to pick up a parcel. YAY. I love parcels! It was unexpected one, and from my friend Jo in New Zealand. She had sent me a much anticipated book, along with a block (slab) of Whittaker’s chocolate and her 3yr old sons art. Just the writing on the package struck an emotion. Nothing needed to be explained, all the contents were fairly small, normal things but each held an immense amount of meaning, memory and intentionality.
And that’s what counts. As a parent, it’s easy to click into autopilot. School lunches, bath time, brushing teeth, laundry, mismatched socks, squabbling siblings, toys EVERY-WHERE, unending mess, and nothing happening quickly enough. Then you stop, breathe and notice the smiles, the joy, the fun, the innocence in trying to pick up a snail and the winking eyes and loud giggles coming from these little humans. It’s the carefree ears-in-the-wind galloping of our dogs across the beach. It’s the warmth your lounge fireplace provides on a cold night, the getting lost in a good book or conquering of a crossword puzzle.
Sure there are the BIG things we can celebrate – and should celebrate; a new birth or adoption, the buying of your first home, or the finishing of a tough slog-filled degree. They deserve a huuuuge glass of champers. Absolutely. But I think those big ‘achievements’ often overshadow the very events that mean more (and often got us there in the first place), that occur continuously during the 24 hours we are given every day.
More often than not it’s reading the love letters from your then-boyfriend-now-husband or the taste of a $2 box of timbits that can inject one with inner joy. The sight of snow capped mountains or drinks off the back of a bakkie at sunset. It’s the endorphins that took you running around Stanley Park or climbing Table Mountain. It’s the sound of the bus stopping or the subway screeching; the smell of the sea or 7/11 (7/11 has a VERY distinct smell overseas – I think it’s that flavoured bottomless coffee). They’re like moments locked in time, all small and often mundane with deep meaning, memory, and enjoyment.
I think we forget that each and everything we decide to do, or decide not to do, collectively, forms habits, builds (or breaks down) morale, and paves a direction in which our lives then lead. And it’s the small experiences (and the gratefulness of them) that build upon one another and make all the difference.
And so be present during the weekend pancake breakfasts, the planting of herbs, jumping on a trampoline, the dripping of ice cream down a small hand, cuddling under a duvet, and reading of a storybook over and over and over again – make those moments count. Because they’re pointing towards something much bigger than what you imagine.
Don’t live on autopilot.