“The moments are all that matter, Jak. People talk about lifetimes, but lifetimes are built out of moments. The decisions we make, the ones that matter, the ones that get people killed or keep them alive…’ she snapped her fingers. ‘They’re that fast.”
– Gwenna Sharpe, The Last Mortal Bond
Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, by Brian Staveley
I haven’t finished this novel yet, but that is just too good and too true not to share.
Gwenna is talking to her new friend and comrade, Jak. She’s not happy about having to rely on him because she’s seen how unreliable he is in a crisis moment: he chokes up and runs away from what he’s afraid of, and simply lives with the shame. He argues that she only knows about two moments in his twenty-four years of living, and this is her counter statement: moments are every bit as critical as entire lifetimes, because it’s those moments that determine the course of lifetimes. Heck, one of those moments of his cowardice would have resulted in the death of his own comrade if not for Gwenna’s own serendipitous arrival on the scene.
Life and death often come down to single moments, single, swift decisions.
The only thing I would add is that there are other, less obvious moments of significance, and they happen every day. It’s not just when someone is in trouble and our choice to we step in to help or not. It’s not just times of life and death where the moments are important. It’s also in those moments where we stop to help a stranger, where we share a laugh with a friend, where we put away our distractions and spend time with our family, our children. Those moments where we help them with their homework, play a game with them, eat together with them, talking with them about anything… those moments are every bit as important as the moments of life and death.
Lives may swing upon moments of crisis like doors on hinges, but the strength that is shown in those critical moments is built, cultivated, and forged through the endless parade of everyday moments.
If there is one thing I want to do better at in my life, it is to seize those everyday moments before they slip away forever.
If this is the only thing I say which you ever hear, then I want to encourage you to do the same. Don’t let any moment you could be spending with your loved ones pass you by.
Life is made of moments, and we don’t have an infinite supply to match the infinite demand for them. Spend them wisely on what matters most.