Two of my favorite recent movies are “Soul” (2020), Pixar’s first movie with a Black lead, and “Sound of Metal” (2019), the Oscar vehicle starring Riz Ahmed. They were both terrific films for a variety of reasons, but what I loved most about them was how they sat with moments of stillness. “Soul,” in many ways, is about what it means to find your thing — that passion or spark that gets you up in the morning. For main character Joe Gardner, that means jazz piano. Without spoiling anything, there is a beautiful moment near the end of the film where he looks up among the trees as the autumn leaves fall through a ray of sunlight that only Pixar could’ve rendered. It’s heavily implied through the animation what it is that Joe has realized. “Sound of Metal” also centers on a musician, Ahmed’s Ruben, going through an identity crisis of sorts. We see his journey as a recovering alcoholic and heavy-metal drummer who has to come to terms with severe hearing loss. While the film is notable for its intense — and at times jarring — soundscape, I loved the beautiful moments of silence and calm that were depicted, especially when Ruben goes to live at a shelter with others who were both deaf and recovering from addiction.
This is all an exercise to shout out two of my favorite films and share with you that a joyful and well-lived life often comes in the little moments we cherish.
I’ve been doing better since the last column, and while I attribute that to a whole host of factors, one of the reasons is because I’ve been able to be grateful and appreciate when things do go well. I know that the life I was born into and the support I get from my parents (given what I’ve put them through mental health-wise) is actually pretty rare and that I am, in many ways, incredibly fortunate. I’ve also done a better job of not constantly comparing myself to others as a way of putting myself down. A great thing that my therapist told me is not to compare yourself to others, but to compare yourself to your past self. That way, you can still strive to be better, hold yourself accountable and acknowledge your progress without suffering from a comparison spiral.
Anyway, now that I am, in some ways, feeling fresher and more in control, I am able to realize that appreciating the little moments is so beneficial. It is the repartee between father, son and daughter on excursions off the beaten path in Cape Cod that invigorates love. It is the moments of relatability between two young people that took time off from college for mental health reasons that create connection. It is the words of validation and appreciation from your supervisor that spark joy. And what do all these have in common? People.
Lesson 1: Cherish the little moments. One thing I like to do is write three to five things that happened in a day, whether they were fun, unusual or just nice things you’d like to put into written memory.
Lesson 2: I’m still struggling with this, but great memories tend to come from being in proximity to great people. Find your great people.