On the Low-Cal Return of Life’s “Big Moments”

tumblr_ndnsc3yhf51qfhbsvo1_1280We’re conditioned to spend the bulk of our time chasing after big moments—fine-tuning applications, interview answers, the proper response on a date—in the hopes that the capital-A acceptance they bestow us with will sustain us… brushing over life’s requisite bullshit with a Zen-garden rake, rendering it all (however briefly) palatable. These moments often come with shiny titles or associations, letters aligned a certain way to dust us over with the glow of success: hired, promoted, engaged, and so on.

I, too, chase after these things—succumbing to life’s rat race and suspect hierarchies just as easily as everyone else. I privilege the superficial over what is inherently more substantial often, and, likewise, celebrate those frothier achievements when they’re scored by a friend. I know the endorphin-rush these moments bring, the way they transform us into walking pastry puffs, all smiley and sugary and wide-eyed at the world. Rather than ripping any Band-Aids off, they raze Band-Aids altogether—these moments dressed up as salves in themselves, those that we’ve been anxiously waiting for, the one thing we needed to breathe a little easier late at night.

But like the best sex you’ve ever had—spurred, likely, by a very opaque shade of affection—these moments leave you (me) wanting. They fade out long before Teyana Taylor turns feline, existing, instead, in the first sight of her abs—the speedy shock of a body so apparently perfect. They leave us hollow, perhaps a little confused… wondering why we feel, well, so much like we did prior to their attainment: fueled often by stress, uncertain about the future, our “place in the world,” or what’s really worth continuing, returning to, rewinding in our brain.  We are left, empty-handed as we always were, without answers.

It’s not so bleak, though, it just requires a new prescription—a new way of surveying your proverbial, pock-marked land. It calls for a little more introspection, a deeper-dive rather than a surface skim, to find the moments whose heat never turns off, never leaving you too chilly without forewarning.

They are tough to locate at first, drab as they are on the outside: an unexpected “I miss you” text from a friend who’s fallen off your wagon, the appearance of 24 bagels in your kitchen unannounced, hungover phone-calls at 3pm on a Saturday when you feel like the poster-child of Shame (and your friends called to help you forget that), realizing you’ve known someone (and, oh god, they’ve known you) for 10 whole, chaotic years, and so on. They’re not rainbow sherbet sunsets or Jasmine-scented sachets, they’re not glorified positions or awards—they’re the watery oats, the burnt-edge situations of life that are too often deemed trash and forgotten. They will not transform you, send you spinning into the C-suite or render you and your path the fairest of them all, but they will fulfill you quietly, like chamomile tea surging slowly through your veins.

Recognizing this, you’ll be left without answers, but, hopefully, left searching less for them, too.

Categories: Reflection.

1 reply »

  1. Jessica! I wanted to tell you THANK YOU for the email you sent me years ago! I was an aspiring writer with big dreams in NYC and though I’m not quite exactly where I want to be (are we ever?) your words were the motivation I needed to keep pushing and striving.

    Do you remember the email?

    I reached out several times thereafter and I’m glad you didn’t respond because you gave me everything I needed in that one shot. I’d love to connect with you in person sometime as I am now working in NYC.

    xoxo Brittany

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