There is one thing—one rare and very elusive thing— that everyone should experience at least once in their lives. With the pace of everyday life in the world today and the many problems and issues that barrage us constantly, we need this one thing that some many of us don’t get to experience. Stress piles upon us driving our blood pressure up and making our hair fall out and making us miserable. We have our diversions to deal with stress and many of us do such a good job at balancing our lives that we don’t even miss the one thing we really need. Even the most co-dependent and clingy among us need this: one moment of blissful solitary serenity.
For me, the first time I recognized it for what it was, it was December 1999 (I don’t remember the exact day) and I was living in Little Rock Arkansas at the time. I had an apartment on the west side and it started snowing in the early afternoon and kept it up all day. I have always liked snow (and I have never lived in a climate that would require shoveling a driveway or a sidewalk, or that snowed for more than a day at a time so I never learned to hate it) so I was glad to see the accumulation.
I had a DVD that needed to be returned before the store closed and I had forgotten it during the day and it was about 9:30 that evening when I noticed it. The store was just down the road from my complex, so I decided to walk. The snow had covered the ground so much that it made it difficult to tell where the sidewalk ended and the street began and it was still falling in heavy, chunky flakes. The snow crunched under my shoes as I walked down the street. The street lights illuminated the flakes as the swirled and danced on their way down from the heavens. Because snow is not all that common, people decided to stay in rather then drive, so the usually busy street was empty and the snow that filled it was pristine and sparkled in the light from the street lights.
There was no sound but the crunching of my footsteps in the snow. The air was brisk and my breath made clouds as I walked along in my solitude. This was it. This was serenity. I had all kinds of problems in my life at that time. I had to work on my master’s thesis, I had a job to do and I had a bad relationship that needed some hard decisions. But out in the cold, walking along a deserted snow-covered road as the flakes kept falling all these problems were—if only for a half-hour—far away and I could enjoy just being.
I didn’t waste it trying to figure out my life. I didn’t stop and take a picture. I just stopped, lifted my face to the sky and felt the snow falling on my face. I let my problems go. After a while, I made it to the rental store and, of course, it was closed. But that did not matter. I dropped the video in the return slot and walked back home as the snow continued to fall. School was cancelled the next day and I couldn’t get to work because the roads were closed, but the snow had stopped falling and it melted in short order. Life resumes.
These moments are rare because most people don’t recognize them when they happen. We are programmed to think that we have to fill every moment of our day with productive activities. The key is to see serenity and stop and enjoy it. Call it “stopping to smell the roses” or “stop to catch a snowflake on your tongue.” The key is to disconnect from the world for a little while. I have had serene moments since then and I enjoyed every one of them. May you find many such a moments in your lives and when you do, make the most of them.