By Curtis Stout

The older—and grayer—I get, the more I’ve learned to savor and enjoy the everyday ordinary moments of life rather than constantly seek out the next “mountain-top,” emotionally charged experience. The simple, relationally rich moments are the ones that are sustainable and are the foundation of a life well lived. Let me explain…

Most people put a puzzle together by starting with the border because it frames the photo and gives you a starting point for the rest of the puzzle. The border pieces usually don’t contain the most spectacular, visually rich part of the puzzle, but they are the easiest to identify and are often times the most enjoyable part of the puzzle…. at least for me. I’m usually bored by the time I finish the border.

In life, the simple, relationally rich moments frame everything else we experience. They give the bigger, emotionally high (or low) moments context and stability. These moments are intertwined into the day-to-day happenings of life and, therefore, are easily overlooked. They’re not the most glamorous moments and probably won’t make your lifetime highlight reel, but they are absolutely essential. They’re the building blocks—the firm foundation—for everything else.

This came to me after our recent year-end school trip. I was reflecting and trying to figure out what my trip highlight was when I decided I didn’t need a highlight. Instead, I needed to be content enjoying the small moments that made up the larger trip experience. These small moments consisted of going on breathtaking, scenic trail runs with a close friend, Greg and I celebrating our victory over the teachers in a team-building activity, being greeted by students with my Haitian name (Kerr - tees) each morning, watching a student resourcefully engineer lights onto his toy truck, cheering students on as they made it rain on the b-ball court, laughing uncontrollably as we watched a tap-tap (Haitian taxi) barrel over a huge trash mound as though it were a monster truck, and remembering why I fell in love with my wife as I watched her drool peacefully while she cuddled with a child in the orphanage. 

Take any one of these small moments out of the trip and, overall, I don’t think it would have changed my experience. Add all these small moments together, however, and I’m left with one extraordinary trip experience that was full of small moments of joy that I’ll be recalling and feasting on for days to come.