A Culmination of Moments

Andrew Valdez
3 min readFeb 28, 2024

All we have are moments. Fractions of seconds that can feel both mundane or life-changing. Breath in just the same as anyone else. Breath out and you are forever a part of this universe. Although I don’t often think about life this way, the truth is each and every second matters. Each passing instant culminates in this perpetual now until one day, hopefully when I am old and gray, I’ll look back and wonder where all the time went. Hopefully. After all, there’s no guarantee I’ll make it to see even one gray hair on my head. In fact, I can’t be certain I will even make it to tomorrow, or even the end of today.

It’s a sad thought but it’s one that has been troubling me all day. It all began when I awoke to a bit of a misfortune. The book shelf next to my head holds four things; my phone, my glasses, my Bible, and Jerry Seinfeld’s Is This Anything?. Waking up a little more groggy than usual after nearly forty-eight sleepless hours, I managed to knock down everything on the shelf. Aside from the jarring wakeup, the damage was minimal. My glasses lens popped out of the frame but since they were cheap and I bought them at Costco, I knew I could get them fixed after school. So I popped in my contacts and moved on with my morning.

Unexplainably, I had this overwhelming feeling holding back my frustration. The phrase, “things could be worse” kept circling through my mind as a spiritual calm settled over my emotions. At the time I was just grateful that I didn’t get angry. But as the day progressed, that moment came to have more meaning than I could have ever imagined. Because around the same moment I broke my glasses, my colleague tragically passed away.

An instant that only brought me brief frustration was the very same that was going to bring his family to tears. My slight inconvenience versus earth shattering news. Inhale just another breath, exhale your last.

Life’s fragility is perhaps the hardest thing to fathom. Accepting that this is the only life I got and I have no idea how or when it will end; it’s a debilitating thought. And yet, I hardly consider it. Only tragedy brings the reality to the forefront of my mind. What am I to do? Live with the ever-present reminder that each passing second is building to my last? Or live in ignorance because the thought of it is too immense to bear?

In respect of his family, I don’t dare speak too much of his passing. However, what I do want to express are my observations of how he lived. This was a man who gave up worldly riches for the betterment of others. A person who led with compassion and humble service, especially for those who could never return the favor. Although I haven’t known him for long, he didn’t need much time to impart his wisdom. For me, it only took a brief chance encounter on the J train to find out who he really was. A man full of generosity and optimism in a community desperately needing it. Leading the next generation towards a brighter tomorrow but still making it home in time to cherish the family he so devotedly loved.

Given his chosen profession, it’s no surprise how much he taught me. But among all the insights he shared, perhaps none of them are as powerful as the way he lived. He embraced the fullness of life. Not seeing each second as mundane but rather seizing each moment knowing they all culminate to one grand purpose. Living as if everything you do, no matter how small or unnoticed, matters.

RIP, my friend.