Neil Tambe

Let’s go.

I'm a Detroiter who happens to enjoy writing, national parks, orange juice, the performing arts, and fanciful socks. More than anything though, I aspire to be a good husband, father, and citizen.

The beautiful, boring, lunch with Bo

I had the afternoon with Bo today. We had a late lunch because his nap extended past 1pm. I had an apple for dessert. Which is funny because when you’re above 30, an apple can actually count as dessert.

In any case, I asked Bo if he wanted to have some too. Bo enjoys fruit as much as I do, so he responded with a characteristic “ya.”

I cut a plane of it off the side and made it into small pieces, about the size of corn kernels.

And then about halfway through eating his slice of apple, he gently put a tiny piece between his thumb and forefinger and leaned in my direction, offering it to me. I opened my palm. He placed it inside. I ate it. It was nice, and very nice of him.

This, in our household, was not a special moment. it was business as usual. It’s not uncommon for Bo, or any other child I suppose, to offer a bit of food to his father. It was something so small, and so fast. Nobody would ever instagram a moment like that, and even if I tried I wouldn’t be able to - the moment passed too quickly. I took a breath in, and by the time I let my breath out the moment was over.

But in a given day these are the moments. They are small. They go quickly. They are not notable. By and large, nobody else will ever know about them.

But they are my life. These are the glimmers I will remember when my brain and body start to fail. All these little moments built up, a sinew that binds my mind and spirt together. Probably 98% or more of my life is these moments, that are boring and un-momentus as it were.

But I love them. The memory of how Robyn’s flip flops clap as we walk our boys down the sidewalk of our street on a Sunday morning. The particular way the water tastes from only our tap. The way Robyn squeezes my big toe when I need to move my leg for her to rise from the couch. Riley’s semi-frequent snoring. The very distinctive crackling of mustard or cumin seeds in the pan when my mom makes a vegetable for dinner. When my father would giggle at his own jokes, in the rare instance that he tried really hard to make one.

The extreme-vast-majority of my life are these little moments and idiosyncrasies that come in an out like a beating heart.

Which is perhaps why I have slowly lost interest in living in a way that produces notable moments. Living moment to moment, I’ve found is a distraction from actual life. I do treasure big moments when they come - like marriage, the birth of a child, or an accomplishment I’m proud of at work. But that is not life.

Those are merely milestones. Life is everything in between. I’ve been coming to a conclusion that the measure of my life is how I choose to act during the mundane but supremely special moments of everyday life. What’s difficult is that everyone else (that doesn’t really, really matter) measures my life by the number and magnitude of big moments I have. Because that’s all they can see, they’re not around for the small stuff and therefore can’t measure it.

Letting go of everyone else that doesn’t matter is so hard, because the big moments that those people care about are so much easier to measure. I think the key is listening. Because by listening we can focus on being the best person we can be in the 98% of moments that nobody else will ever remember, singing the songs that are playing deeply within our own hearts, and letting the big moments be a gift and a surprise when they arrive, rather than an aspiration.

I think Sister Mary Clarance and Ferris Bueller both had it right.

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