Cherish each moment… or don’t

A tale of loss and the revelations found on the other side

Recently, I lost a friend. On her way to being a dear friend, but unfortunately, she didn’t make it. This friend was wildly successful by just about any standard we seem to value in society. She was outgoing, adventurous, creative, friendly, revered and respected, well-financed, innovative, and many other adjectives.

The first time I met her was at a Mediterranean restaurant in Salt Lake City. We immediately hit it off. Our conversation went on for like two or more hours—and two or more bottles of wine. After that, we started communicating more regularly. As a person who was quite accomplished from a relatively young age, by 33, she’d seemed to have seen and done it all. Looking for an outlet—for purpose—she turned her creativity to an “art night.” There were only three sessions of this so-called creative gathering, but in these hours-long get-togethers, we began to develop a relationship. In these sessions, we’d draw and paint and talk and drink. But an interesting thing. Despite her acclaim, her deep contact list, her thousands of LinkedIn connections and Facebook friends—not to mention the dozens personally invited to these gatherings—at most there were ever four of us in attendance. Including her husband. And for two of the three, it was just she and I.

For me, it was great — a ton of one-on-one time with someone who seemed to have her crap together. For a person like me who consistently feels like he doesn’t, that kind of face time was extremely valuable. These moments gave us time and opportunity to discuss a great many things. I treasure those conversations—especially looking back.

Knowing now how things ended up, there are two morals from this story that certainly aren’t new, are often repeated, and are seldom taken seriously—however, both have taken on new meaning for me. First, cherish every moment because you don’t know when time’s going to run out. And second, things aren’t always as they appear.

To elaborate on the second, the woman I saw as an impervious superhero was not. She had everything that most are steady chasing in business and life—money, notoriety, “success.” However, the most basic things—happiness, self-satisfaction, stability, peace, and purpose—seemingly eluded her. While she knew everyone and was respected by the mess of them, few could take time from their day to join her in her creative pursuits. She was known as a titan in the tech industry, and when she spoke about that, people listened. She was not recognized as an artist, however, and when she painted, she couldn’t draw a crowd from a hand-picked group of friends.

The point I’m trying to make was that because everyone knew her as adventurous and outgoing, seemingly happy, few put much value on these get-togethers she was having. We didn’t recognize the importance of those meetings at the time, but looking back, we’re all crystal clear. What looked from the outside like an unshakable demeanor was actually a delicate human being seeking purpose, and we didn’t recognize it until it was too late.

Circling back to the oft-ballyhooed cliché about cherishing every moment. We hear this kind of advice a lot. In fact, I’m almost certain that some derivation of this idea is probably cut out of vinyl and stuck to a wall in your mother-in-law’s kitchen. But regardless of how often we hear it, we rarely take it seriously. Generally speaking, it’s only in situations like this where a friend is gone too soon that we see—if only for a second—those moments we made together through this new lens that creates additional, more profound meaning.

I don’t buy the premise that we should cherish every… single… moment. However, in the context of relationships I love the idea of flipping the script and actively working to make each moment worthy of being cherished. At risk of sounding tropey we do so by showing gratitude for the time given to us by others as well as being focused, intentional, and purposeful with the time we give in return.

A moment shouldn’t be cherished for merely existing. After all, if that were the case, how could we pick out the really important stuff? How would we separate taking out the trash from the birth of a child if every moment was cherished equally? My point is that by being intentional, entirely investing ourselves in every interaction, we can throttle up the number of moments we make that are worthy of hanging onto. They will become the ones that stick when that newish friend of yours falls permanently off the map.

I am very grateful for the time, albeit brief, that I had with this person. Those few moments we had were, in fact, worthy of hanging onto, and no doubt I will. Piling on the advice of literally hundreds of thousands of facebook posts and insta-tweets, my two-bits at the end of this piece are: take the time, put in the effort, and be purposeful with every interaction. Don’t cherish every moment, but work to make every moment worthy of being cherished and take nothing for granted.


What about you?  

What do you do to make the most out of your moments in business and life? Let's talk about it! Share them here in the comments below or find me on the socials. Let's continue this conversation wherever the audience most suited to hear it can get involved - I am @ryanroghaar on Medium, Twitter and Instagram.