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The moments that define us

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The moments in our life that we value are those upon which we place value. When we define ourselves with moments of pain, we let those moments beat us like rough waves on the shore. When we choose moments of joy, it's easier to learn how to fly wherever the wind may take us.

Many moments in life are just that, moments. They aren't momentous. They aren't memorable. They just are.

These are the moments we forget. You probably don't remember that moment five minutes ago when you scratched your nose. It's likely that you've already forgotten moments from your drive to work or school. And it's definite that the thoughts you had yesterday while waiting for a more interesting moment are already disconnected from your memory. They're orphaned, never to be recalled or retold.

The moments we remember are meaningful. Either they are moments we knew were special in the moment, or they are moments we recall as particularly important after they occur.

Firsts fall into both of these categories. First loves, first heartbreaks. They are moments that helped us become who we are.

The same is true for finals as well. The final time we sat in a classroom as a student. The final time we saw a friend before a move. The final time we spoke with a loved one before their passing. Even our final breath will be a moment, both for us and those who love us.

Then there are the moments we never consider until someone points them out to us. Think back to when you were a young child when your parents would pick you up. Somewhere in your life, there's a moment when they picked you up, gave you a hug, put you down and never picked you up again.

You don't remember that moment. They don't remember that moment. But it's a moment of profound meaning for both of you. It marked a moment of growing up, a moment when childhood transitioned into something else, a moment of great sadness and great joy.

Every moment can have meaning. The best moments are those of unexpected beauty, where we find happiness in the unexpected. The worst are those of betrayal where the unexpected was what we least expected to occur.

Even seemingly meaningless moments can gain great importance, such as when we meet a person of great significance, such as a best friend or spouse, for the first time. Other moments are like a game of chess, brief moments of conflict that combine to create much more than their individual parts.

All of these tiny moments, bad and good, become significant landmarks that mark the passage of time in our lives. Unfortunately, many of us define ourselves by the worst of these moments instead of the best. We cling to pain instead of joy. Because we can't forgive, we're unwilling to be forgiven.

When we anchor ourselves to these bad moments, we lose the ability to transform them into memories best forgotten. We hold ourselves back and make it harder to embrace other moments of exhilarating joy. We refuse to give ourselves the same second chances we give others.

Why should we choose to be defined by pain we refuse to discard? Why shouldn't we find peace by letting bad moments go? We must follow this saying: "Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace."

The moments in our life that we value are those upon which we place value. When we define ourselves with moments of pain, we let those moments beat us like rough waves on the shore. When we choose moments of joy, it's easier to learn how to fly wherever the wind may take us.

In the end, every moment has value, if only in the moment. But, it's the moments between our first and our final that define us.

In the moment the game ends, the king and the pawn go back in the same box.

ERICK ROMMEL IS A COLUMNIST WITH THE CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE.

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