It's Your Moment

If life is a series of moments, we have incredible power over how we live our lives, simply because we have incredible power over how we spend each moment. This moment (for example), you’re reading my words... but you could just as easily be reading someone else’s words, or planting a tree, watching a movie, or making love.


In a recent interview with NPR’s Fresh Take podcast, author Joshua Harris describes his recent development of a gluten allergy. It’s a particularly painful subject for Harris, who was an ardent foodie before the allergy reared its ugly head.

He derived an immense amount of pleasure not just from the food itself, but the camaraderie that accompanied his hobby. For Harris, the sense of community was “the true meaning of breaking bread.”

In the interview, Terry Gross asks Harris how he avoids “a toxic envy of people who could do things that you can’t like drinking beer and breaking bread and eating pizza.”

Harris’s answer:

The very easy answer to arrive at, but not necessarily to put into practice, is to recognize at every moment the incredible limitations that I have in general, and to reconcile myself to those limitations, and also to reconcile myself to how little control I have over them. Once I do that, I see the incredible broadness of my simple being. I can leave off concern for what I’m not capturing, what I’m not experiencing, and take solace, but also great delight, in what I do have, in the simple pleasures that I’m still allowed in the delight in being human, in the interactions that are most meaningful to me.

During his stint as a foodie, Harris was skeptical — if not downright dismissive — of gluten allergies. The development of his own gluten allergy was a cruel twist of fate.

In my more mystical moments, I think that I have this [allergy] because I was so insensitive to those allergies.

This is an interesting story in and of itself (and I highly recommend you listen to the entire interview, but what struck me is the thread that runs through Harris’s thought process.

As I wrote just a few months ago:

[Life]is an almost infinite series of moments, strung together so finely so as to give the illusion of oneness, of one straight, measurable line. We are not walking a line. We are living a series of moments.

Harris goes on to explain how his focus on moments affords him a certain power:

At that point in time, I’m not a kind of deprived being. I’m a person who’s acting from within with great power: with the power of the self, to do what he can do to realize his moments.

If life is a series of moments, we have incredible power over how we live our lives, simply because we have incredible power over how we spend each moment. This moment (for example), you’re reading my words... but you could just as easily be reading someone else’s words, or planting a tree, watching a movie, or making love.

Whatever you’re doing, you chose to do it. You have the power to stop doing it, to do something else, or to do nothing at all. In short, you have power over this moment, and so have power over your entire life.

If you want to spend more time with your kids, do it. If you want to write a novel, or learn to speak a language, or go skinnydipping, or take a walk in the morning, do it. Log out of Facebook. Put down the Doritos. Tap “decline” when your phone rings. The choice, after all, is yours.