Life in the Margins
Sometimes it feels as if we live from event to event, occasion to occasion: weddings, birthdays, holidays, Thanksgiving, Fridays, hump-day, weekends, vacation … you get the point.
There are so many moments we remember that punctuate our lives and influence our memories. I’d call these the signature moments in the chapters of our lives. While I love these moments as much as anyone, the truth is they have all blended together over the years, and for me the memories are less memorable. There have been hundreds of these moments, and while I wouldn’t miss one of them, I have to admit they have become a blur.
What I do remember, what has given meaning to my life and what I still look forward to, are the interstitial moments—those moments in the margins of my life that stand out.
These are the conversations that come up when we’re not glued to our phone, not distracted, not thinking about yesterday or tomorrow. These are the moments when we are present and someone says something that sticks. Sometimes it’s just something small.
One of those moments for me recently was when I heard a new analogy that got my attention. It was a remark from Miles Kington about the difference between knowledge and wisdom. It goes, “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in fruit salad.”
I get most of my wisdom from conversations that happen in the margins—the time and space between what is happening; the relaxed open times in a waiting room, sitting next to a stranger at an airport, walking to lunch with a friend. The margins are open, uncluttered and free of agenda. They allow us the freedom to hear things, to think about things and process new insights in ways that can have a big influence.
The margins of our lives are like the web of caulking that keeps the tiles connected in a mosaic. They keep the moisture from eroding the foundation and make the mosaic a beautiful, cohesive strong work of art. Pay attention to the margins and make time for them.