Moment in Time
I recently went skiing down a black diamond run, one of the most difficult slopes on a mountain. Now, don’t get too excited, I don’t exactly “fly” down black diamonds. I’m not skilled enough to gracefully zigzag around moguls, the way the expert skiers zoom along, making aerial maneuvers and technical turns. Even though I make it down the mountain alive, I always promise myself that I won’t do it again. Yet, because my husband loves skiing, I end up pushing myself to face this challenge year after year.
The terrain was treacherous. I struggled through every patch of ice and every mogul, the bumps formed when skiers push snow into mounds as they do endless sharp turns. My fingers and toes were painfully cold, and I certainly was not enjoying the moment.
In need of a break, I decided to pause and look up. Across the way and in the distance, I saw a beautiful mountain covered in snow. Within that mountain was a small spec of black, clearly a person skiing down at what seemed like a slow but steady pace. It was absolutely breathtaking, so much so that for a moment I forgot about the moguls before me and the numbing chill in my limbs.
That’s when it hit me: What if in that moment, the skier on that picturesque, snow-covered mountain stopped to gaze at our mountain? Might he have the same thoughts as me – Look how well they maneuver down the mountain! How lovely! Little would he know how much I was struggling with the moguls or how I was in pain from the freezing weather. Instead, he would see the beauty of the mountain and my gradual progress down the slope, not the ice patches and the moguls. Maybe I looked graceful from that distance!
The same is true of life. Life can be full of wondrous moments and blessings, and yet when we are in the trenches of it, we rarely notice them. We focus instead on the small, unglamorous details.
During my day-to-day life with my children, it’s hard to see them as lovely when they cry, whine, or make seemingly endless demands. Yet as I gaze at them while they are angelically sleeping, I can see the beauty in them. It is in those quiet moments that I can look at them as a whole, and see the miracle and gift of each child that G-d has given me.
From a distance, skiing, our children, and life are all beautiful. But up close, these things are certainly not always easy.
There is a well-known story about a man who stood in the subway station of Washington, D.C. playing his violin. He performed for 45 minutes and over 1000 people rushed by, but only seven stopped to listen to him. Maybe if they had known that he was Joshua Bell, the world famous violinist, playing a 3.5 million dollar violin, they would have paused to appreciate the beauty of his free concert.
How do we enjoy the music despite our rush to reach our destination, appreciate the vistas spread before us despite the bumps, twists, and turns of life?
One way is by having a gratitude journal. It’s as simple as having a notepad to jot in or a friend to call or email every day to share these special, modest moments. I have a close friend with whom I email daily “gratitude moments.” Our correspondence forces me to pause and actively seek out beautiful moments in my life. For example, one morning I woke up early from the rising sun beaming through my window and heard my three-year-old giggling. What a joy!
Our observations don’t have to be big at all. Sometimes, the smaller the moments are that we recognize, the happier we will feel inside: noticing a laugh, a kind look, a warm “hello” from a stranger passing by, or a gorgeous, fragrant flower. Living a joyous life is about pausing to see what has been there for us all along.
So take a moment and look at the glorious scenery, and the child resting peacefully. Listen to the music around you – it might be worth millions.