The Big Moments Aren’t Going To Save You

But we have smaller, better ones

Ryan Frawley
8 min readDec 25, 2021


The Calling of Saint Matthew. Caravaggio, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In here, everything echoes

Stone walls. Peeling plaster. Deep red tiles that go back more than a century, buckling and cracking as the old house slowly gives in to gravity. The beams that bend under my feet now were cut when my great-grandfather was born, in a country several seas from here.

No furniture. Not yet. No heat, either. The stone walls are as thick as the length of my arm, and they give back the chilly breath of the hundred and twenty winters they have seen. Talking in this room, to myself, becomes a muttered dialogue between voice and echo, between mouth and stone and ear.

My home. After thirty-eight years on this earth, I’ll finally be living in a place that I own. Not one rented from a landlord or borrowed from the bank. Inside these thick stone walls that keep out the weak winter sun on the shortest day of the year, I own everything.

Not a bad Christmas present to myself, and my wife. But nothing about the path from there to here was easy. Nothing was straightforward. And when you want something badly enough, it becomes a prison. The bright ring they break horses in, a circular pit for our hearts to long and longe, never quite reaching the end. Not even now.

A victory, in its way. A dream I once didn’t let myself dare to have. Even five years ago, there was no way I could see myself living completely mortgage-free before my forties. Or after them, for that matter.

And I’m not yet completely free. Still a rat running on that wheel, chasing the same piece of cheese you are. But a house you own completely is, if nothing else, a bend in the bars. A step toward freedom, if not the freedom itself. It’ll do for now.

And these stone walls will stand forever. Less a prison than an amphitheater, open to the sky and ringing with the voices of the dead. In the long memory of stone, I’ll be joining them soon enough.

But that’s not how I count time.

If you’re not reading Daniel Williams, I don’t know why you’re here



Ryan Frawley

Novelist. Essayist. Former entomologist. Now a full-time writer exploring travel, art, philosophy, psychology, and science.