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The Grand Accumulation

“The value of things is not in the duration, but in the intensity in which they occur. This is why there are unforgettable moments, inexplicable things and incomparable people. ” — Fernando Pessoa

Experiences matter a great deal in moving us. For this reason seeking diverse and rich experiences in our lives moves us a great deal farther along the path to becoming than limited experiences do, but it all counts. We are what we repeatedly do (and I repeatedly use Aristotle’s quote in this blog as a reminder to myself), so we ought to do things that move us in the direction we aspire to go.

The question of value is appropriate to ask ourselves. Just why do we value certain things more than others? Is a dinner at a Michelin-level fancy restaurant a greater experience than eating an apple on the summit of a mountain you’ve struggled to reach? One can make a case for the apple without diminishing the value of the restaurant experience. Each resonates in their own way. Each may be savored. Each counts towards completing our picture.

Experiences may pull us up or drag us down, so we must be diligently aware of the collection of experiences that, stacked together, make up our lives. With value as a lens, we may be selective in the experiences we seek, the things we collect and the people we associate with. If this sounds rather elitist, it’s just the opposite. We can be inclusive and open in our engagement with the world, while prioritizing the moments that resonate most deeply for us.

When we think back on the days gone by, what moments shine particularly brightly? Usually it’s something surprisingly ordinary, amplified by something unique, like a chance encounter with an old friend, a beautiful vista earned with a hike or early rise, an unusual bird at the feeder, a line from a poem that floored us, a new song that we’ll forever associate with the moment we heard it. These are highlight moments amongst the ordinary prose of life.

Still, we can make a case for ordinary too. The ordinary is the foundation from which the extraordinary rises. With each extraordinary moment, layered ever higher one upon the next, our foundation also rises. This grand accumulation of moments, things and the people we surround ourselves with may just lead to an unforgettable life. Perhaps even we ourselves will reach incomparable. Too bold? Add another layer. It won’t be such a reach.

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