Life Is Not Measured By How Many Breaths We Take, But By The Moments That Take Our Breath Away

“Why do Americans love sunsets so much?” asked David, one of my university students back from when I taught English in China, a dozen years ago.

I furrowed my brow, tilted my head to the side and tried to understand exactly what he was asking because, really, who doesn’t enjoy the romance of a luminous skyline?

“Um, don’t you?” I responded.  “All those colors, the magnificence,  that moment when day ends and night begins.  Chinese people must like that, right?  They’re just so… so stunning.”

“The setting sun is part of regular life, there’s nothing…uh, special about it.  It happens every day.  It’s just normal.”

Einstein says, “There are two ways to live your life.  One is to live as if nothing was a miracle.  The other is to live as if everything is.”  Honestly, I can see the beauty and perfection in both perspectives.  I learned a lot from David and from my time working and traveling there.  Mostly how different we were from each other and surprisingly how alike.  I realized that many paths lead to the same place.

But as far as sunsets go, I guess I just like having my breath taken away.

Rockport Harbor, Maine

How do YOU measure life?

Leave a comment


  1. Lisa

     /  22 January 2011

    Thanks for once again posting something that makes one think! All too often we allow the amazing to just pass us by.

    • Kellie

       /  22 January 2011

      Lisa~I think of all the moments that have passed me by without appreciating them. I try now to put myself in situations where the magic happens, which is much more common than I used to believe. Thanks for commenting! xo

  2. Christopher

     /  22 January 2011

    This post has produced all manner of feelings in me.
    My first response is to the object of measure here, sunsets. I love them. Sunrises too. In fact, I love sunlight. I remember being in Italy for the first time and staring for long stretches at sunlight on the side of buildings – I saw color differently. Certainly I understood Crayola’s “Burnt Siena” for the first time. I also understood why the renaissance happened here. It’s the light!
    On certain summers I’ve ridden in darkness to the top of Cadillac Mountain in Bar Harbor just to watch the sunrise.
    I prefer the Outer Banks of North Carolina for the very specific sunlight.
    I am frequently late because of sun. Walking to work in the early winter mornings the sunrise at the horizon of 13th street and the east river stops me every time. That same sun hits the brick on a building on 16th street that I also revere.
    In my apartment are 3 poster size photos I’ve taken in which sunlight is a major breathtaking character.
    To the question of measure When I first read your question I thought, “A ha! I don’t measure life, this is my gift” Of course I do. I measure lots of things, but when I feel most misunderstood, it’s when the person or persons I am with want to measure different things, or want to keep me at arms length by holding me to an unknown measure. “Christopher, you’re too (Much, emotional, excited, aggressive, etc)”
    It took me years to finally have the presence of mind to ask the question, “What’s the measure? What is the right level of excitement?” And to this day I delight in the fact that most cannot answer. I ask this of my patients a lot and it yields so much information. I think sometimes we are unaware of how much we measure – or are being measured.
    My Achilles heel has been that I was raised with one vital measure missing, and to this day, I still get tripped up by one specific question. I can share torrents of information with you about a choice I’ve made – but if you ask me, “Does it make you happy?” I’m frequently lost. Happiness was not part of what my family measured as I was growing up – still isn’t.
    I was going to reply to this post this morning, but the photo of Rockport Harbor took my breath away and I’ve been lost in it. 🙂

    • Kellie

       /  23 January 2011

      Christopher~ Light has such profound meaning for me, too, in its many forms, from sunlight to my inner light. I also have been held at arm’s length and even rejected, accused of being too … intense, emotional… and in reaction I’ve veered to the other side and then been (allegedly) too cold, distant. I now set course by my own measure and am the captain of my light. How much fun it is navigating now…xo
      ps – if Bar Harbor is on your summer agenda, just want to let you know that you CAN get there from here 🙂


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