“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.
Life is made up of small and fleeting moments and if we don’t pay enough attention, they would go unnoticed as they pass us by. The small moments that go unnoticed are sometimes the most important ones. They are the moments that define us as human beings. They are the moments that speak volumes about one’s character. And these fleeting moments, small and insignificant as they may seem, are our defining moments.
A very wise man once said that our defining moments aren’t the moments of comfort and convenience, but, rather, moments of challenge and controversy. These moments are what measure our character, these are the moments that shape us.
I was walking through Perth the other day and my attention was directed to a homeless man sitting by the sidewalk. He was clearly drunk because I noticed that he was holding an empty bottle of vodka. He was begging for money, but he was also yelling at the people passing him by. I could tell that he was angry. At whom, however, that I did not know. At the world, perhaps? At the situation he was in? Maybe at the people who were clearly doing better than he was? All I kept wondering was what series of moments brought this man here, at this point in history, in this particular place and at this particular time. What defining moments did he let pass by without even, as much as, a second-thought? I wondered how this man ended up in the streets, clearly intoxicated, angry at the world and yelling at passersby. Did he fail the tests that were thrown at him? Did he let the challenging moments overcome him? Was it too much for his heart to bear? Was he treated unfairly, unjustly, or inhumanely? The questions remained unanswered, but this I know: these defining moments determine our capacity to bear what life throws at us, yes, but these moments also determine how well we handle success. It determines whether we drown in success, or crumble in failure. It determines whether we succumb when faced with adversity, or we stand and fight. And it determines if we keep going even when the going gets tough.
Life is made up of small, seemingly insignificant, moments. But these moments will, to quote Robert Frost, “make all the difference”. These moments will define your character and the trajectory of your life. And if we are not careful, these small, seemingly insignificant, moments will pass us by. We won’t know it, we won’t notice it. We won’t even feel regret for it, because we can’t feel regret for the things we don’t know. And that, perhaps, is the scariest thought of all–that we will be robbed of the feeling of regret.