It’s always the little things. The unsung heroes that are not distracted by glory. The characters you disregard who have been secretly stashing vendettas all along, made all the more dangerous for their patience. They end up being your completion or your undoing.
It is the little things that give everything meaning. It is an accumulation of puzzle pieces to make a spectacular picture, the collection letters to make words to make sentences to fill pages to complete a story. Ultimately, a thousand little things make something big — and what’s more, small beings united to make something immense often lend a certain grandeur to themselves — all the more for not having done so through any intention. We must learn to love the little things.
It is the little things too that can sink ships, break dams, and crumble walls once thought to possess the ultimate fortitude. A thousand unsung heroes make for a daunting collection of neglected lyrics. A silence to shatter silence. A vast silence, suddenly making the greatest statement of all.
The small thread, unnoticed – one unlucky moment, one snag, and everything comes unraveled. It’s only a matter of time.
Nature never fails to reveal to us the power in patience and time. A quiet shrine to the omnipotence in a congregation of all that seems insignificant in solitude. A minuscule grain of sand, a billion times over and we have a beach, a sand castle, a shore upon which we can watch our footprints form and fade. Which grain of sand should be deemed unnecessary? If this one, why not that one, and every other – each no more or less important than its comrades. Which grain mattered most? None, alone – all, together. The ultimate manifestation of strength in numbers. Or, the persistence of raindrops, forming caverns. A refuge carved with patience, the greatest tool in a carpenter’s arsenal.
It’s the same way grass grows, the same way nails grow. It’s the same way clothes fade with wear, the same way books sidle from new to used (or as I like to think, loved). Little, unnoticed. For so long, with such a sustained, controlled tempo. Then seemingly out of nowhere – apparent, sudden. We’re left taken aback because when did this happen? We were right here, how could we possibly have missed it? On the one hand, a testimony to how often we fail to see, to notice, to pause and appreciate; on the other, a tribute to the little things for mastering their craft – excellence in discretion.
Yes, little is discreet and little is sneaky. Little can slip through cracks, melt into backdrops, disappear while big distracts. And we are so easily distracted, we provide ample opportunity for the small things to nestle in as stowaways in cumulating moments of our lives.
It is the little things that make and break, forge, and fracture.
And there is much to gain from being perceptive to these small moments.
When we become aware of the meaning behind a loved one’s mannerisms, we can anticipate their brewing feelings and puncture the pressure in hoarded anxieties and anger. When we choose not to dismiss the significance in forgetting small requests from friends, we undermine the accumulation of resentment. When we inscribe in the folds of our memories a passing comment from a family member, we come to own the ability to give gifts with meaning – a commitment to memory often being the most meaningful gift of all. When we add mere seconds to our interactions with the multitude of strangers we encounter, in order to smile, to wish them well, to thank them, we renew our grasp on interconnectivity and remind ourselves of a collective humanity. When we pause to appreciate the uniqueness of each day, or the melting magical moment just before the sun dips beneath the horizon, or the indication of spring by the birds chirping, or the witnessing of an act of kindness – we are actively choosing to see what is good in the world, and in so doing, adding to its goodness.
The little things are unbiased – they are what you make them. They will pile up where you toss them. They can break down walls – whether with patient persuading, earning the trust to remove barricades, or by consistent erosion, leaving rubble. It’s not too late to start seeing the little things – to start adding to them and appreciating them; to start guiding and cherishing them.
Imagine the completed puzzle – a stunning picture. Imagine being awed and mesmerized by its image, and then imagine if you were able to elicit such an appreciation of every piece along the way – how much fuller and more magnificent life becomes.