Michael He

February 21, 2022

Small Moments Are All We Have

Today wasn’t productive by any account, but it felt wonderful.

I read a fascinating story in bed to start the day. Then I walked to Trader Joe's to buy flowers for my friend's recital. After the recital, I walked around campus, spoke with someone I haven't seen for two years, ate some fresh chicken tenders, and started writing this piece.

Today was a wonderful day because I was fully in each and every little moment. 

When I woke up and decided to read a fifty-thousand-word fan fiction, I was comfortable with the consequences and the "I could have" syndrome. To hell with homework. And guess what? The three hours I spent reading zipped past like a rollercoaster ride. The story deeply moved me with how the main characters found love, support, and friendship in each other. It was a wonderful tale of what we ought to do for people we care about and I enjoyed every moment of reading it.

The walk to Trader Joe's was just long enough to warm up my body and not sweat. When I walked past a coffee shop, I suddenly had the yearning to take notes of what I had in mind. 

This American Life is a mood, a sensation, an atmosphere. Just imagine a sunlit room in a tranquil afternoon. Your cat is napping. You are sitting on a comfortable chair and Ira's soothing voice is telling the story. You are fully in the presence of your loved ones - significant other, children, friends, and God. 

Similarly, the trip back home was full of lovely thoughts. I thought about how small businesses like floral shops and bakeries can make our lives more meaningful and my long-term mission to empower people running such businesses.

I saw the shadow of a squirrel on an electric pole and just stood there to watch it waltzing across. I had a moment of yearning for fresh creamy milk. The gentle breeze was taking care of my hair. The lazy sun was giving me undeserving attention. Everything felt wonderful. I was in the moment.

That was when I realized how wrong we are. We constantly yearn for the big moments, the highlights of our lives. Graduation, job promotion, first kiss, wedding, once-in-a-lifetime trip, etc. Even for the anti-romantics, big moments carry much of the weight.

Those moments matter, but they should matter less than we think. What if we focus on the little moments instead? Aren't big moments the culmination of numerous little moments we often are not even aware of? If we are singularly focused on the little moments, won't we remember more of them and see how they make our lives more wonderful? What if I live everyday like today, bringing more awareness and a sense of wonder to whatever I do? Work may be repetitive, people may be frustrating, but I can choose to look at things differently.

I cleaned up my room after the grocery run. I found some washi tape from my Tokyo trip years ago and remembered how much fun I had, a kid confidently strutting in a foreign land by himself. I was so convinced in writing down every little thought in my pocket notebooks
back then. Now these notebooks are in a shoebox stored somewhere and I take notes on my phone. But it’s okay, those moments at least existed with proof.

I have changed in many ways, but I haven't in terms of the things I value.

Just like back then, I still chase the sense of elation, such moments of tender lightness. I love having an open schedule for myself and others. I love inviting spontaneity into my life for good, instead of always planning things out and feel inexplicably exhausted. I want my day to be in no hurry and no worry. In that way, I am still a fourteen year old boy and I want to be that way forever. This moment of realization felt amazing and encouraging.

While I was waiting for the recital, I thought about my favorite figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu. He didn't win a third medal at the Olympics, but I couldn't care less. I have followed Yuzu for almost ten years. I know that despite his competitive nature, he was not there to merely win. He wanted to push figure skating to the new frontier.

The quote came from a short note I wrote earlier.

What I love about Yuzuru Hanyu the most is his relentlessness. He is almost 28, which means he will retire soon. He is not just trying to get medals at this stage of his career, but to do his best to push the field a bit forward, to inspire the following generation to keep that fighting spirit, and to make figure skating the best it can ever be. 

That takes bravery, selflessness, and ultimately, a form of love that is impersonal. People who live by that are rare gems.

See, Yuzuru was skating to be in the moment. He attempted the so-far-impossible quadruple axle at the Winter Olympics finals of all places. What courage! What determination! 

Even if he doesn’t win, his frail body is the most beautiful canvas to ever exist on ice. And let’s not forget how he introduced millions of us to the magic of figure skating in the first place. When he is on ice, our moments are his. 

Then the piano recital happened. It was an hour of sensibility, elegance, and peace. My friend did a wonderful job and performed at a world-class level in my opinion. I thought about the moment idea again. Basking in the moment, I told myself to enjoy the moment, to feel it, and not to think about it. Still processing my experience, I would have a lot more to say later down the line. 

And here I was, eating chicken tenders outside and feeling my fingers slowly freeze in the cold. I watched Tomorrow X Together, one of my favorite artists, perform. The performance was from 2020 and I suddenly thought about the state I was in at that time - panic, confusion, and doubt. The world has changed. TXT has changed for the better. So have I. 

It's been one year since I started this blog. It's been two years since the pandemic. It's been three years since Tomorrow X Together’s debut. It's been four years of friendship with my pianist friend. It's been five years since I became a BTS fan. It's been six years since I bought the washi tape in Tokyo. It's been seven years since high school. It's been eight years since my adolescence. It's been nine years since I knew Yuzuru. It's been ten years since coming to Los Angeles. And it's been eleven years since I moved to America.

As noted before, I am still sentimental as hell and remember many more little details than I probably should. But that also leads me to recognize the little moments and cherish them extra hard. 

Ruminating on all the little moments makes me see the big moments clearly. And that moment of epiphany is rather wonderful.