It’s amazing how the important moments of life can be described in the smallest of sentences. They contain such ordinary decision making that leads to an entirely new trajectory or outlook.
- I threw away the moving boxes.
- We bought the bigger bag of dog food.
- She crossed the state line.
- He ignored the call.
- The letter came back undeliverable.
- They decided on a house with extra bedrooms.
- She took off the ring.
- The test was positive.
- He deleted the photos.
- I changed my Twitter bio.
- We grew apart.
Little sentences. So few words. Yet, they tell stories in their simple way.
Perhaps it is not the grand gestures that tell who we really are, nor our lofty creeds and long-pondered philosophies. We defend our beliefs with wars of words and declare our love with elaborate ceremonies. Monologues of solemn declaration, profession and confession, essays on the ecstasy of living.
But I have found most truth-telling gets done in the space of a single breath.
Endings and beginnings. Tragedy and celebration. Decisions made and consequences felt. Our stories are lived in inhales and exhales. The soft tick-tick-tick of the second hand marches on as long as the fragile thump-thump-thump of our hearts continues.
I read recently that while we humans know and fixate on a thousand and more ways we could die, the true quest is for that one spark that could make us come alive.
Maybe that spark is not some elusive secret recipe or formula waiting to be discovered. Maybe it is already among us – the ethereal magic of living. Hidden in the everyday, in plain sight. Perhaps the great definition of our existence is not a manifesto. No weighty tome or doleful dissertation. What if we don’t even have to leave our mundane obligations behind, but only examine our conversations?
It is the sigh, the hanging of the head, the lifting of earnest eyes, the words that fall uninhibited from the tongue. Three words or five or nine. Maybe there is a tear or a smile, a hug or a back turned, a hope dashed or a future faced. But never underestimate the power of the short sentence. Know how to recognize it when a few words are loaded with meaning and much more is going on below the surface than a string of vowels and consonants. Don’t miss it.
“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic, capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.” ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows