Is it age or experience? I don't know if I am willing to go so far as to claim "wisdom". But what is the catalyst for the realization that the biggest things in life–the most important ones, at least–happen in the smallest and quietest ways?
In spite of knowing for the last 24 years that "Success is not a destination' it's a journey," I've continued to pursue the moment. That thing out there, presumably that tells me that I've arrived. Personal, professional. What have you. And when this arrival happened, there must be some sort of ticker tape parade or something. Right? And the feeling–man, oh man!–the feeling of the moment would linger. I could hold onto it for the rest of my life, knowing. Content in that knowing. Complete.
Uh huh. Sure.
Because that's not the way it works, is it? Moments don't linger. They come and go. When they're gone, that's it. Onto the next thing. Makes chasing that moment a little silly, huh? Because what is it? It's a myth, that's what it is.
Success can't be a destination because destinations are kinda nothings.
I went to the Grand Canyon this past October. I hiked out to the rim and stood there for, like, 10 minutes. That was my arrival. And then I hiked back to camp. Yes..it was a great 10 minutes–one that I'd looked forward to since I was a kid. But the moment, itself, was small. Just Lori and me standing there. A couple of "Wows" and a picture or two on my iPhone. No big deal. And then it was done.
Yet, it was somehow greatly satisfying.
That's because getting to the Grand Canyon, I think, was the big deal. Everything around it. And the small moment at the canyon's edge was really special in terms of how it related to all the other stuff. The getting there, which was far more than half the fun. I mean, on one hand, it was a moment 25 years in the making. That's a journey of the "holy crap!" magnitude.
Standing there at the edge of the canyon together, we looked at each other. We knew we'd arrived, figuratively as well as literally. Finally. That was…huge.
I guess my point is that I am realizing every time I have pushed for the big moment, the big deal, and held that moment on a pedestal, I've been disappointed. The moment never seemed as important as I'd made it out to be. And I'd have it, go to bed, and wake up the next morning and I'd still have to pee and put my clothes on and brush my damned teeth and let the dog out and get the kids up and off to school and do my day just like I always have to. There is no moment in life that transcends all that.
At this point in my life, I am finally waking up to that. I'm seeing why it's the journey that's so important, and why the most important moments in life are so small. It's because the moment is nothing without the rest of life–real life–alongside it. If I work toward a moment to escape life or distract myself from my life, I'm on the wrong track. The moment isn't self-referential. It doesn't celebrate itself in a vacuum. It's sole purpose and reason for existence is to acknowledge a point along the journey.
It's the moment's relationship to peeing and putting on my clothes and brushing my damned teeth and letting the dog out and getting the kids up and off to school and doing my day like I always do that makes it special. That makes it outstanding.
Fitting is the word, therefore, I would use for this, my favorite picture of last week, courtesy of my beloved and her wonderful "to do" board. On Tuesday the 8th, RUNAWAY was finally released on DVD. It seems to be doing quite nicely in terms of sales and rentals, and I am grateful for that. After the long and–god, what do I say? Arduous? Difficult? Overwhelming? I dunno. What I can say it that after 10 years (I wrote the original short story in 1999), it all came down to this.
RUNAWAY released. And we still needed a pooper scooper. And jeans for
Indi. And gloves for Jonah to go on his school trip. It happened in
the midst of life. The fact that she put it on the board was a loving
recognition of something in life that day, not above it or beyond it.
Part of it.
I don't know if I am making any sense. This is all kind of stream
of consciousness here. My first attempt at trying to put this into
words. Having it on the board, and not doing much (although Lori and I did steal away for a quick celebratory toast later that night) other than the stuff I needed to get accomplished that day seemed to honor the RUNAWAY journey more than any ticker tape parade ever could. The quietness of the moment gave deeper meaning to everything that went into arriving at this particular destination.
Not to get all Christmassy on y'all (though it does seem appropriate), but the whole conversation brings to mind this passage in the second chapter of Luke:
"So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."
That Mary…she had the right idea, I think.
Big journeys. Small moments. Pondering. Life.
Here's to you and all your small moments this season, TRUE LIFERS.