A big, orange ball about this big, the kind that was scattered around the underground markets of Paris back in 1987. They had an opening on one side from which they would sell orange juice to the weary travellers and thirsty passer-byes during the day. Late one night, after the stores had closed, I remember just adjoining myself against one of the balls as Indiana Jones had almost done years earlier in Raiders of the Lost Ark. I was wearing this striped greyish-navy blue suit with pants of a slightly darker colour (which were seemingly too long for me), and to add a more scholarly effect, a vest to go with the suit and a red clip-on tie. Apparently my mother was having too much fun watching her six year old son claim the ball as if it was his new playground buddy that at that moment she clicked the round, red button on the camera and into the memory banks went that gleeful night.
Just as I had recalled my memories of Indiana Jones and the tremendous rolling rock that almost crushed him that night, when I now think about Paris, I recall my time with that hug-able citrus sphere. It’s ironic that of the Raiders of the Lost Ark movie and of my time in Paris, I remember a moment from each which was not very consequential to the whole experience. This, I find to the perfect example of the saying, “It’s the little things that matter.”
I’ve been privileged to travel the world two times over, visit places that many people dream of visiting but never do, and in effect, experience things that so few have experienced. In the relatively few years of my existence on this planet, I’ve come to know that the only way materialistic possessions give true satisfaction to the owner is if that possession has some sort of sentimental value attached to it; this same sentimental value reasoning is associated with my trip to Paris, or London, or Tokyo—and the same way it is associated with life.
The everlasting question of the meaning of life, to be happy or even just content, to possess and to want and to desire: Someone once asked me how I would see myself 30 years into the future. My answer did not include a huge sum of money, neither did it include a big house or a fast sports car. I answered by saying that I simply wanted to be content and be doing something that made me happy. And by saying that, I hope to have conveyed that I need not the luxurious possessions to make life worthwhile. I simply need the comfort of a mind that is at peace, the memories of the past that can bring a smile to my face and all my simple day-to-day necessities.
I dare not think that I am an isolated case of such reasoning. The people of the world—every man, woman and child—everyone can remember something from the past that will make them happy, even bring tears to their eyes. Whether it be in the 3rd grade when they misspelled the very last word in the spelling bee, or the first time their true love said those three magic words to them under the midnight sky, those moments will always be instilled within them, or, in my case, the utterance of the word “Paris” will bring me back to the spot of the underground markets as I once again hug that orange ball as if the whole world were to be mine. These will be “the little things that matter” when all materialistic possessions lose their superficial lustre.
“All of my possessions for a moment of time.” Those were the alleged last words of arguably history’s greatest queen, Elizabeth I. When one, with such wealth and success as her, can say such a thing, one must give credit to the fact that when it’s all said and done, we don’t remember what we have possessed, but rather what we have done with what we have possessed, whether it had been time or that camera with which my mother took the picture of me that night in Paris.