Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Three Little Stories About Little Things

By Dan Horgan

The expression “enjoy the little things” is misinterpreted in today’s society. Life is indeed about enjoying the “little things,” but devouring a twinkie after a hard day’s work – a likely “little-thing” scenario in modern entertainment – is not the small piece of our day we should be pinpointing as special.

Life to me is about enjoying the little things that add up to equal great things – the things that make us who we are. I’ve noticed these things in my life over the past few weeks and feel compelled to share them with hopes that you can draw parallels – and ultimately recognize the little things in your life that make each day beautiful.

Walking towards growth

During my orientation at Emerson College 15 months ago I met a short and friendly kid named Elliot Oquendo. I initially thought the two of us would get along but not have enough in common to be close friends. But as we started hanging out, Elliot and I realized we share the same humor and outlook on life. And after three college semesters of good times and character-building trials, we’ve become as close as brothers.

One of my favorite things to do with Elliot is go on walks through the Boston Common and Public Garden, which are right across the street from Emerson. The historic grounds are fairly deserted at night, allowing us to stroll through and talk about anything without judgment.

Since we became friends, Elliot and I have probably walked over a hundred times. While ambling, we talk about girls, our future goals, and life in general. We’ve learned more about each other and ourselves on these walks than we would have ever expected.

The other day Elliot and I went on a spontaneous walk down Boylston Street and soaked in the city’s holiday decorations. We talked about the importance of not compromising morals and values for social gains, and I realized how lucky I was to have such a great friend I could share my thoughts with on a regular basis.

Elliot is a brother, and the bond we’ve formed has been boosted by something as small as strolls through the park.

“Winter” by U2

Growing up, there was a U2 soundtrack to pretty much everything done in my house. The band has always been my parents’ favorite, so I’ve inevitably heard the Irish rock quartet as much as Bono has expressed his desire for world peace.

My dad made a particular effort to help me appreciate U2, as the band’s poignant lyrics speak to him and his Irish heritage. I remember him explaining to me the meaning behind “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and why Bono wrote “The Sweetest Thing” for his wife, and I have countless recollections of him blasting and rocking out to the group on car rides. For me, the result of growing up on U2 was a developed love for the band, whose music I now associate with my father.

The other night Elliot and I went to see the new movie “Brothers.” The film was a powerful picture about the after effects of war for veterans. As the credits rolled and we left the theater, I heard what was unmistakably a new U2 song playing. I was blown away by the power carried in Bono’s soft voice, and I immediately fell in love with the song.

As I walked out of the theater with the song playing in the background, all I could think about was how much I loved my dad. He’s been there for me since the day I was born, and I can’t think of a more influential role model in my life. U2 is just a small thing he’s introduced to me, but the band symbolizes the bond we share.

As soon as I got back to my dorm room, I looked up the song and emailed it to my dad. The tune, entitled “Winter,” brought a moment of joy to my day. Being able to share that joy with someone like my dad made it all the more special.

Kitchen Talks

I hated doing homework in middle school and high school, so I would always get creative in finding ways to make it more enjoyable. My favorite tactic was doing homework in our kitchen while talking to my mom, who made dinner for my family on a nightly basis.

The routine would usually go something like this: I’d half work on my homework and half complain to my mom about how much I hated school, while she slaved over a meal and kept the conversation going enthusiastically. I give her credit for doing so–I probably talked about myself way too much.

It’s been a year and a half since I finished high school, but last month while at home with my family for Thanksgiving, I sat in the same kitchen chair I would do my homework in and talked to my mom while she cooked for the holiday. I was reminded of the daily talks we had throughout my younger years, and a warm feeling of nostalgia came over me.

I have countless – and I mean countless – fond memories of spending time with my mom. The summer I spent with a broken leg was probably the best of my life because my mom took me everywhere under the sun to ensure I could still be a kid and have fun. But throughout everything we’ve been through, what I enjoy most is the small daily interactions we have. Just talking to my mom about my day means so much to me. I guess I never grew up in the fact that I still get excited when my mom comes home from work, simply because I get to see her. Our kitchen talks were a minute part of my upbringing, but I’ll always treasure them because they are a microcosm of the love I have for her.

The little things in my life keep me happy and make me who I am. Recognize the great little things in your life and enjoy them to the utmost.


  1. No fair making me cry!! Great job as always. We love you. You make us proud every day!

  2. wow Dan! that is the best. I don't know what to say, we are so fortunate to have you in our family.