I can’t start my day without Diet Coke. I know that makes some nostrils curl, but I feel the same about coffee. So on this particularly frantic morning, with multiple deadlines looming and precious little sleep behind me, I snapped: No Diet Coke in the fridge. Horrors! Must make a McDonald’s run: Traffic delays, deadline panic, no Diet Coke – could it be worse?

Growling and grumbling, mad at the world, I rolled down the window of my car and the morning changed. For a few brief seconds, I was caught in a swirl of golden leaves that tumbled onto the hood and in through the window. It was a moment of pure joy, a simple little act of nature that reminded me my complaints are nothing. Nothing. I’d left the house cursing; I returned laughing.

We’re often faced with ridiculous challenges in business, in relationships, in the everyday struggle to get by in a wretched economy. Orders go unfilled; contracts are lost; it’s impossible to find reliable workers. It can be overwhelming to the point we’re paralyzed. But there are moments – often surprising, mostly unexpected – that inject themselves into our frenzied lives and in very small, very subtle ways, they tell us we’ll be fine. This is not to dismiss the all-too-real problems we must overcome, not in the least. But if we recognize them, if we grab those moments, they can save our sanity.

Even the most painful periods of our lives can be mitigated, somewhat, by these moments. Take a look at this month’s cover story, and you’ll understand a little better.

And if you will, allow me to share this:

A few days after my father passed, I roused myself from bed very early, still numb from a weekend of signing papers and the worst case of writer’s block ever. At a moment when I was stricken, the unexpected assignment of writing my own father’s obituary had driven me deeper into the black. I had spent a few days working on it, but to this day I haven’t really read it – and probably never will.

So on a bitterly cold January morning, getting myself to the station to catch the 5:15 train was a struggle. It would be the first day back in the office, the first time talking with co-workers, the first “normal” day without the father I so adored. I figured a few solitary hours before the office opened would help orient me.

As I made my way in the dark, taking side streets and counting on muscle memory to downshift for stop signs, I realized I was struggling to stay focused. One word kept banging away in my head: ache. It had been hard to shake, so I let it settle in and figured that work would distract me.

But then, as I turned a corner and the headlights caught a snow bank, I was literally dazzled by the simplest, most exquisite beauty. There, at 5 o’clock in the morning, on the curb of a forgettable suburban street, millions upon millions of glistening, glittering flakes lit my field of vision. And for that moment, in that brief, breathtaking instant, life was good. Life was good.

Amid our very real worries, we all have moments of grace. We just need to hold them.

Take a moment for New Plants

The New Plant Introductions deadline is right around the corner! Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to promote your finest new plants for 2013; download a form at http://bit.ly/O85pwL, fill in the necessary information, attach a high-res jpg image, and send it to newplants@mrpllc.com. As always, it’s free!