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Philosophy |ISSUE I


By Babak Golshahi

Alain De Botton, a favorite philosopher of mine who regularly releases new documentaries for the BBC, once spoke somewhere in one of his documentaries about the value of our 'small' moments. He spoke critically and reflectively about the value of our moments by illuminating on what our common culture seems to have decided are the important moments in our lives. The time 'humming and erring with your girlfriend' is rightly disregarded by the common culture, he suggests, in favor of bigger, ostensibly more substantive moments. While films, television, and media in general seem to point us in the direction of moments 'we will never forget', it's worth noting that the smaller moments in our lives have just as much objective value, and in their own right have a real importance that we ought to cherish.

What do I mean by 'small moments' exactly? Well, let me give an example. As I began writing this post, my mother came over and handed me a handful of roasted almonds. She asked me to tell her how they tasted - I said 'delicious, they are much better roasted'..she smiled and walked away. How valuable was this moment? Subjectively, I could have decided that this moment was relatively meaningless, a mere distraction from my attempt to get on my way with this article. Cherishing our small moments means investing them with value - I must see this moment as having more relative value in my attention to moments in order that my life be better invested with fuller value and meaning in general. Is this moment more important than a 'big' moment? Not exactly...but it's certainly more important than I would have treated it, had I not reflected on its importance to my life.


The larger moments in our lives certainly have an impact because of the value that is ascribed to them in our hearts and in our memories, but in the end these larger moments are simply highly glorified smaller moments. Every moment spent in a nightclub is not a 'large' moment. Examine for yourselves the time you spend during any sort of celebration. What is a large moment? Is it the moment when you get a new girl's phone number, or perhaps when you toast your drink with a friend? What about the moments in between, when you are searching for what to say, or fumbling awkwardly with your hands in your pocket? A moment's reflection should convince you that even our 'big' moments are also simply moments, granted more importance because of the happiness or sadness they induce in one sharp instant. 'Big' moments are often surrounded by smaller moments, and the sum of all these moments, perhaps the average, is what makes in our minds and hearts, at any given space of time or interval, a relative value. Every seemingly mundane action you perform is only less important because it will eventually lead you to a moment that will mean relatively more; without the mundane, we wouldn’t have the exciting. Without the humdrum of everyday work, we wouldn’t be as excited for the time when we are not working. This point is obvious to the vast majority, it would seem, but needs particular emphasis for those who see small moments merely as gateways.

​We can regret less that our lives aren't always full of big, fantastic moments and cherish (relatively) more the small moments we have together. Let's keep celebrating our big moments joyfully and eagerly, but also cherish and give a larger relative weight to the importance of our small moments.

​Photo of Alain De Botton

Babak Golshahi studied Philosophy, Music and Criminology at the University of California Irvine. He currently resides in Los Angeles.

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