In the age of social media, big business, and the endless pursuit of affirmation, the focus seems to have shifted from quality to one of quantity. How many followers do we have, how many strangers "like" something we have released into the world, how many dollars we take home at the end of the week. These metrics are important, undoubtedly. Dollars put food on table, rent checks in the mail, and shoes on feet. Followers and fans pave the way for business opportunities, social influence (hopefully in the direction of good), and link communities across the world. Access encourages communication, and even competition which fuels innovation. In the absence of competition, we may never reach the cutting edge, but rather hover in the mediocre zone. The pursuit is necessary.
Thus the negative connotation I speak with is not an assault on striving, pursuing material success, or aspiring to attain fame in a particular field. It's more so a reminder that regardless of these metrics, you mean something to someone.
I recently read for the countless time a darling little book by Anna Quindlen called A Short Guide To A Happy Life. It has offered me great consolation in times of anxiety and uncertainty. It has reminded me to be grateful when worry rears its unceasing head. I highly recommend reading it; it's brief so there is no excuse not to. In it she writes,
“Life is made of moments, small pieces of silver amidst long stretches of tedium. It would be wonderful if they came to us unsummoned, but particularly in lives as busy as the ones most of us lead now, that won’t happen. We have to teach ourselves now to live, really live…to love the journey, not the destination.”
She speaks with a humility that is inspiring (she is an accomplished author and New York Times bestseller on multiple occasions), and an appreciation for life's beautiful moments that we all too often overlook. Dew resting on blades of grass, a belly laugh from a toddler, a wet kiss from your dog. She has helped me to quiet the noise, focus on "small pieces of silver", and give thanks for them.
Recently, I've gotten engaged and have successfully put off any serious thought about the expectations of planning a wedding. People have asked about the details, who will shoot the photos, what brand the dress will be, who will cater... the list goes on. I've managed to avoid getting caught up in these details just yet so that I may soak in this moment in my life. A moment that hopefully doesn't come around again. James and I each have so many quirks that I think we are more or less bound together. Regardless of the venue, the cost of the dress, the size of the ring, and the champagne served for a toast, at the end of that day I'll be a wife, he'll be a husband and our loved ones will have been there to rejoice in a happy moment. A moment where two people decided they'll face the world, the pursuit, the uncertainty - together. While I won't walk a runway in my gown, and James won't get a James Beard award, I will still feel beautiful in that dress and he will still be the greatest Chef I know. I mean something to him and he means everything to me. And that is enough for this day. We'll face tomorrow when it comes.
My cousin took some photos of us to commemorate this moment. Obviously we decided to go to a farm that sells apple cider donuts.