Cherish The Small Moments, Even In Hard Times

Cherish The Surprises In Life
by Karen Keller Capuciati

July 25

Surprised to see our radishes popping up thru the soil –- beautiful red.

Inspired by the moon rising — a large orange glowing moon!

Touched by Mom feeling better today.  She felt cared for and listened to.  She was grateful, I heard it in her voice.

I have a few little notebooks which I fill with moments that surprise, inspire and touch me.

This journaling idea is an inspiration mentioned in the book, My Grandfather’s Blessings, by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., who is considered a pioneer in the the field of mind/body health.  Dr. Remen writes about a patient of hers, named Josh, a cancer surgeon, who needed help with his own depression.  He was not inspired by his day-to-day existence any more, Remen says, and felt that he was living an empty life.  His patients’ symptoms all seemed to be the same, and he no longer had the interest that he once had.  He talked to Dr. Remen about making wholesale changes — perhaps retire early — to turn his life around.

But Dr. Remen had a different idea.  She recommended he look at his life with “new eyes.”  She suggested that Josh take 15 minutes each night to review his day and consider what surprised him, what inspired him and what moved him.

Josh had a difficult time with this at first.  He was writing things down but it was having no effect on him.  He was clever enough to find answers to the questions, but he was just reviewing his day, not making the leap to being moved or surprised or inspired at the time of the actual event.

“I could only see life by looking backwards over my shoulder,” Josh told Dr. Remen.  Gradually, however, the lag time between an experience and his appreciation for it shortened until he began to actually experience the moments.  He started to live them rather than simply seeing them in his rear-view mirror.  He learned to live life again by not just finding moments to include in his journal, but actually savoring them when they happened.

As he started to witness life’s small wonders again, he noticed his attitude changing as well.  And then, as if by natural reciprocation, Josh noticed a shift in the attitudes of his patients toward him.  Perhaps it was his body language, he thought, or a vibe that they were picking up on.  Suddenly, Josh started to see the whole person in front of him, rather than just a patient, and his patients responded by being more open with him than ever.

Reflecting on Josh’s journals, Remen writes: “Eventually he saw people who had found their way through great pain and darkness by following a thread of love, people who had sacrificed parts of their bodies to affirm the value of being alive, people who had found ways to triumph over pain, suffering, and even death.”  He was able to perceive and intuit more about his patients and he felt a more meaningful connection.  And that’s when Josh rediscovered the vitality and importance of his practice.

The lesson for those of us helping someone we love (or even ourselves) through a serious illness is to not miss the small special moments in life.  Because even in the most demanding, exhausting times, there are small moments that warm the heart or make us laugh.  Savor these moments with awareness.  Write them down, because they will no doubt be the most cherished times, the most meaningful times, and moments that you will reflect back on with great joy.

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