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Ann Cannon: An appreciation of 'small triumphs,' because there's plenty of those to go around

Published April 27, 2017 9:54 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Dear Imogene,

Well, first things first, OK?


It's a joy to welcome another granddaughter into the world. Hey, look at that! The lady with no girls in her life now has (count 'em) four granddaughters! Which she finds to be a little scary! But that's not the point!

The point is that your grandparents on both sides are already mad about you and will always be mad about you.

Meanwhile, I want to share something with you that I've been thinking about lately. I'm at the stage in life now, frankly, where I'm looking backward at least as much as I'm looking forward. Maybe even more so. And here's what I'm realizing.

Human beings — at least this human being — spend a lot of time waiting for THAT moment. You know. That moment when you are fully validated. Someone hands you a report card, grading you on your life, and you get straight A's. Or the Academy presents you with an Oscar for your general awesomeness and doesn't take it away. Or you win the Super Bowl of Life, which allows you to go to Disneyland free of charge until the end of time.

Or, if we human beings aren't exactly waiting for a grand moment like one of those above, we're at least waiting for that moment where we can say,"Oh. OK. I get it now. Thanks for that, Universe." And everything from then on is a piece of cake because we totally get it now.

But here's what I'm discovering, and maybe you have to live a long time to learn this. Time isn't the only river (you'll hear this expression at some point, Imogene). Life is a river. It keeps rolling. It doesn't stop — unless somebody builds a dam and, quite honestly, that ain't no good time for nobody when it comes to living.

In other words, you never arrive. You keep on moving. That's the way it works. So if I have one piece of advice for you, it's this: Don't wait around for the big triumphs, which are fleeting anyway. Make each day a triumph — no matter how small — for yourself. In fact, the smaller the triumph the better, because there are plenty of those to go around.

So what do I mean by small triumphs? Here are a few examples.

• Connecting with friends.

• Taking a pleasant walk.

• Eating some gelato. (Try a different flavor every time.) (Or not.)

• Petting a cat and noticing how warm the afternoon sun has made its fur.

• Opening a bedroom window each night as summer approaches and listening for crickets.

• Turning to the first page of a new book, hoping you'll love it as much as the book you loved most before.

• Taking off your shoes and walking on the grass. We're lucky in Utah because the grass here feels soft on your feet.

• Enjoying the feel of cool water on your face on a hot day.

• Enjoying the feel of a warm blanket on a cold day.

• Listening to a piece of music that seems like it was created just for you.

None of these things is impossible, darling girl. They're not even hard. But if you do them — and pay attention while you're doing them — by the time you're my age, you'll notice that they've added up to a beautiful life even when your life is hard.

Oh, have a beautiful life, Imogene.

Ciao, Bella!






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