1. The breath in a performance.  A moment of silence where everything is hanging in the balance.  The air is charged with energy.  Everything is still, but make no mistake, this is a tipping point.  Savor the moment.  The calm.  Because it is what makes the next moment memorable.
  2. Writing something late at night and then getting up in the morning and finding that you actually really like it. Late night writing is something of a minefield.  You never quite know how it’ll look in the morning.  Sometimes you can barely even understand it.  All you have is a pile of scramble that yesterday seemed like the work of a genius.  But there are other days.  Days when you crack open the notebook you scribbled a poem in the night before and find a masterpiece.  Days when you can’t believe how organized and logical and concise your 2 am paper sounds.  Days when you feel like you conquered the world and didn’t even know it.
  3. Having groceries.  This is something I one-hundred percent took for granted when I lived at home and I still do to a lesser extent, but boy is it nice to have food at your fingertips.  It is far too easy to forget what a blessing that truly is, but I am thankful for it.
  4. Listening to people talk about things that matter to them.  Human beings are pretty adept at doing this thing called caring.  We place value on the things that we find important and we make them a part of our lives.  So when people talk about the things that matter to them, they bare a little bit of their soul in the process.  I think that’s one of the most beautiful things a person can see.
  5. Singing with thunder.  Thunder is a natural sort of accompaniment for awe.  And one of the best ways that humans can express deep things like awe is to sing.  It doesn’t necessarily need to be loud, maybe hardly more than a whisper, but it will resonate.
  6. Campfires and stars.  The array of the night sky has inspired poetry since as long as poetry has been a thing.  Humanity is drawn to the beauty and the vastness above our heads.  You know what else humans have been doing pretty much forever?  Gathering around bonfires.  To cook, for warmth, to sing Kumbaya, it doesn’t matter.  the circle of light around a fire is a community whether it is intended to be or not.  Put those two together, and you have one of the most togethering experiences you could possibly create.  Community  and safety harbored under the brilliance of the universe.
  7. Finding tastes that blend well.  You guys.  I found the purpose of Earl Grey tea.  It goes with salty meats (i.e. bacon).  Which makes so much sense because it is a very English tea and what is the Full English Breakfast made up of?  That’s right!  Salty meats like bacon and sausage!  Earl Grey is such a sharp pointed flavor that it kind of clashes with most foods and I’m not personally a huge fan of it by itself.  But you balance it out well and life is good again.
  8. Really competitive games that tear friendships apart but in the end make them grudgingly closer.  During the game, it is cutthroat, every man for himself.  Trash talk flies and the stakes of the situation might as well be life or death. When it’s all over the winner gloats and the loser sulks and retaliates.  But in the end, for all of the bitter rivalry, you love each other even more than you did before.
  9. Dancing for no reason.  God gave us bodies that move in some pretty cool ways and dancing is one of the only ways we really use a lot of that motion.  And while I am a wordsmith far more than a translator of movement, I know that dance is a form of communication that can convey a world of truths.
  10. Somber togetherness in prayer.  There is an intensity about being quiet in a group and speaking only for the purpose of glorifying God.  A good intensity.  In the past, the only times I’ve really settled into experiences like these were when my heart and the community were heavy with grief.  Last night, my choir facilitated that reverent, resonant atmosphere intentionally, without needing a tragedy to bring us there.  I do not have words to tell you what that meant to me, but rest assured I went away from there with my heart full and my focus on the cross.
  11. Movies that have really great soundtracks made up of regular old songs.  I love orchestral scores from movies so much and I love to study to them and whatnot, but soundtracks with songs that you could listen to as a song independent of the movie are really fun.  Also, they can be super effective in the film itself if it’s done right.
  12. Team Spirit.  When people are not afraid to be proud of their participation in something and they shout it to the heavens.  This group, these people, this thing is mine and I want the world to know.
  13. Taking the time to curl up in a ball with a blanket, a snack, and a good book and just let the world pass you by for a while.  I never understood what a blessing it is to sit down with a book for hours on end until I went to college and stopped doing that.  Netflix just isn’t the same as cracking open the pages and diving into the neat rows of text that tell of something so much bigger than twelve point font.
  14. One-on-one chats over food.  Whether that’s a meal or coffee or what have you, you get to give your full attention to just one person for a little bit and bond over hors d’ourves or coffee or lunch.  It’s a quiet sort of connection, but a worthy one.
  15. The smell of office supply stores.  The combination of paper and glue and plastic and productivity all rolled into one magical, subtle aroma.  It gives you the confidence to know that you can sit down at your desk and tackle every job that has ever plagued you without even needing a break.  You can do it.  Especially if your sticky notes look cool.  All of that confidence in a scent.
  16. When someone tells you in plain language that they value you.  We have a lot of ways of letting people know they matter to us, but ninety percent of those ways don’t seem to involve the simple obvious tactic of telling others that they matter to us.  And sometimes those subtle not-quite-straightforward ways get lost in the melee of life.  But it’s pretty hard to miss it or misinterpret it when someone tells you at point blank that they love you and value something about you.  And it lights you up inside too.
  17. When you wrap up a conversation bajillions of times but it is such a good conversation and you are so invested in it that it keeps on going for hours.  Sometimes, you meant to have a quick chat that turned into the conversation of a lifetime and for some reason, every time you say bye the connections only get deeper and you want to stay even more.  The memorability of the conversation usually grows exponentially with the number of times you have already started to end it and gotten distracted instead.  Those accidental talks are when the real stuff happens.
  18. When you give someone a hug and they smell really good.  I mean this in the least creepy way I can possibly say it, but I love hugging people that smell good.  I don’t know how else to talk about that, but it’s a nice surprise added to a nice experience.
  19. Live music.  Can we take a moment to acknowledge the tireless individuals who spend copious amounts of their life playing music for people who may or may not be listening?  The chords you hear drifting around the street corner are golden, precious works of art.  The jazzy tsssk ts ts tsssk of the cymbal in the background of your clinking glasses and silverware is a gift to be cherished.  The soulful voice filling up the coffee shop for the dozen stragglers who are there at the same time by chance is a courageous soul.  May we never forget their worth.
  20. When your family tells you little tidbits of news they think you need to know.  My mother informed me today that the little blue alarm clock that I used as a kid sold at the garage sale today.  Last week, my dad texted me about the Two Men and a Truck truck he saw with three men in it.  My sister keeps me regularly updated about her physics teacher’s crazy antics.  None of these things have any bearing on how I live my life.  They aren’t pieces of news that would matter to anyone else, but they make my heart happy.  They are casual little reminders that my family is thinking about me and I love the excuse to talk to them.
  21. When new friends start to be familiar friends.  I haven’t known the new people on campus for long, they’ve only been here a month.  But I love that I am starting to notice them in things: learning what their handwriting looks like, recognize their shoes or their voice, have nicknames for them.  I love reaching the transition from casual acquaintance to genuine friend.
  22. Falling in love with a new song.  I am the type of person who will listen to a song I have discovered until it has been beaten into the ground for the rest of the world.  I see it more like planting.  Learning the lyrics, making the music home.  That is what turns a good song into a favorite song.
  23. Mystery food.  We are not talking meat that is made of something you’d rather not know here, we are talking about surprises.  When someone sets a dish in front of you and grins, hovering until you take a bite.  They hand you a cup, eagerly encouraging you to take a sip and guess what it is.  There is a mystery here to solve and you are the detective on the case.  And whoever brought you the dish is bursting at the seams for you to discover the answer.
  24. When you appreciate being a walking advertisement for your school.  One does not bedeck oneself with the images of one’s academic institution lightly.  Unless you are wandering around campus or headed to a school sponsored event, it is unlikely that you have a burning desire to blatantly flaunt school spirit.  That is, unless you truly love the place that you identify as yours when it comes to education.  If that’s the case, you never want to shut up about it.
  25. Trying to look casual stepping on fallen leaves.  I can’t help myself.  If I am walking outside and I see a leaf that is more or less in my path, I calculate so that my step just happens to land right on it.  I shorten my stride a few inches, or lengthen it.  I steer myself ever so slightly to the right or left.  The moment approaches, and I plant my foot, completely satisfied as I hear that telltale crunch that defines the best moments of autumn.
  26. Eating warm bread.  You slice into it, watching the steam emerge from the seam as the slice falls.  A thin layer of butter soaks in immediately, adding a dash of salt to the smell of yeast and flour and love that engulfs the room.  The instant the bread touches your tongue, it crumbles, almost melting.  And just like that, fresh bread is the best thing since sliced bread.
  27. Gentle joy.  You don’t feel any urge to jump out of your seat and run around giggling, but you feel full.  Not heavy, just grounded.  Quiet, but the space is rich, not empty.  In a way it almost verges on sleepy, but in a moment it could pick up a job and conquer it steadily and surely.  This stillness is balanced, but that is because both sides of the scale are stacked high with blessings.  Not every joyful moment can be a boisterous adventure, but the peaceful respite is nothing less than perfect nonetheless.
  28. Wearing boots.  Cozy feet weather is upon us which means we get to break out the warm and enveloping footwear called the boot.  I have never met anyone who is sad about that.
  29. Learning new things about your parents’ lives before you.  What?  Your parents had lives before you came along?  They were functional human beings who lived all of the stages of life that you have?  Yes indeed.  Believe it or not, how ever much you may feel like the center of their universe, you haven’t always been.  And because their life thus far is longer than yours, they have more stories to tell.  Listen.  Because they can be pretty darn good stories.
  30. When people let you make a big deal out of your own birthday.  I went ham for my birthday this year.  I looked perfectly put together and so many kind people made the point of pointing it out to me.  I had friends get out of bed to eat breakfast with me.  I invited an entire village worth of people to dress up and come out to dinner with me.  They obliged me all of that and more and put up with all of my antics for the whole day.  And then they showered their own love on me completely independent of my own plans to make a big deal out of myself.  I have some pretty cool people in my life and I am so grateful that God has blessed me with each and every one of them.