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The other day, after my mother had watched our son while my wife and I ran some errands, she offered to help me pick up my beloved beater car, which had been in the shop for repairs. As I backed her car out of my driveway, she let out a positive sigh from the passenger seat as her eyes fell on our “new” house — a 2 bedroom red brick house built in the ‘60s — our “weigh station” on our road to homeownership.
“What a great little house,” she tacked to the end of her sigh.
“I know. I like it.”
“And a great little family.”
“I like them, too.”
After a few beats, she turned to look at me as I drove her car down my street.
“You seem to just have a great little life.”
“I like to think so.”
Most people want to live a great big life — whatever that means.
Don’t get me wrong — I like that great part. But making it “big”? Big already comes with living.
It’s hard to define the what and why of “big.”
What does it mean to live a big life?
Does that mean to accomplish monumental feats—whatever the hell “monumental” means? To make lots of money and earn prestige or status? To be famous?
Why would someone want to live a big life?
Does this mean that the status and the money earned can grant you the freedom to do what you want? To live lavishly wherever you’d like?
I’ll take a little life over a big life.
What does it mean to live a little life?
Living little means a simpler existence.
Fewer plates to spin.
Fewer people to impress.
Less to lose.
Shorter heights from which to fall.
Less time worrying about things that, in the end, don’t really matter.
Why would someone want to live a little life?
The motivations of others aren’t as regularly called into question.
Your belongings are few and simple but aren’t intended to impress strangers and acquaintances.
You have fewer, but higher quality friends.
Where does greatness come into play?
I don’t want only a little life, but rather a great little life.
Accomplishing what I want to accomplish — never only what is expected of me.
Perpetually sharpening myself — as a husband, father, friend, mensch, and artist.
Enjoying a higher quality of time with the people that matter the most to me.
It is my prayer that when the wrinkled fingers of my exceedingly aged hand turn the pages of personal photo albums — drawing out memories from the deepest recesses of my hopefully-still-accessible memory — that upon closing the book, I can happily sigh — just as my mom did in the car that day — and say to myself,
“I sure have lived a great little life.”