#7: Take time to appreciate the little things in life . . . like elephants
Today was a sunny fall day that cried out for adventure. Unfortunately, it was a work day for me and so I carpe diem-ed as much as I could given the circumstances.
I had lunch with my hubby at the National Museum of the American Indian. I always spend a few minutes in the cafe walking around and eyeing all the enticing and seasonal Native foods on offer. I even pretend to be entertaining the thought of trying something new. But somehow, every single time I visit, I get the totopos with chicken. I am never disappointed in the totopos with chicken. I’ve had it at least a dozen times. But I’ve never been able to eat it while sitting up front by the windows overlooking the cascading waterfall outside the museum. It was a gorgeous day to have that view so I felt particularly lucky to partake in that small pleasure.
When my husband and I parted ways after lunch, we hugged. We kissed. We kissed again. This may seem insignificant to you but after only four years of marriage it has already become easy to fall into a routine, to give each other a quick peck and walk away, already thinking about what we each have to do next. But today was different. We took time—maybe only an extra 30 seconds—to really connect. A small thing but a very nice thing.
Come quittin’ time I was already running late for a casual dinner with close friends so I speed-walked out of the office and across the street towards the Metro station. I caught a glimmer out of the corner of my eye—something gold and high off the ground. A crowd of people blocked the sidewalk and I groaned as I tried to push through towards my destination. And then I looked up. The glimmer had grown larger as I approached and I finally focused my eyes away from my beeline to the train and towards the source: an elegantly bedecked elephant. In the middle of 12th Street. What on earth?!?
I smiled and looked around me. The crowd of people included men in suits, women in evening gowns, tourists in FBI sweatshirts, and workaday folks like me looking pausing their harried rush to get home to gawk at the giant creature wrapped in luxurious textiles and a gold headpiece. I laughed and noticed that everyone was sporting a goofy grin and an expectant posture, as if we were all waiting to see the elephant perform a jig or at least explain to us what the heck it was doing in the middle of a cluster of government buildings on a Friday evening. I snapped a blurry photo with my camera phone and walked on.
It was a minuscule part of my day, spotting this not-so-small elephant. It took maybe a total of 45 seconds. But the moment combined with the other small bits of my day that made me smile—sitting by the waterfall, sharing an intimate moment with my spouse, and, later, relaxing on the couch with dear friends, laughing at Dave Chapelle and remarking over the Dog Whisperer.
Lesson learned: The big, momentous things stand out as the things that define our lives. But it is actually all of the small things that define each individual day; they are truly the things that add up to a life worth living.