Life is comprised of the small stuff. The small joys and small trials and small moments. The small stuff is actually pretty big. And though I know the adage focuses on not miring ourselves in the minutiae, in these crazy times, I’d like to turn it on its head, and say, the small stuff is exactly what‘s worth sweating. As Ben Franklin reminds us, “Little strokes fell great oaks.” So, here are three small things worth caring about.
A long time ago, we were fed a mistruth. Not quite a lie, but a misrepresentation. The notion that only catastrophic forces warrant sadness and malaise and loss. That no matter how great the small trials, if we have a home and people to love, well, then who are we to feel down?
The truth is, uncertainty is far more dangerous to our wellbeing than crisis. We’re built for crisis. Fight or flight. We come together in crisis. What we’re not built for is a life without anticipation. A life without certainty. We can’t calibrate without a firm sense of what is and what isn’t. The past year has tested this notion more than any in recent history. To live each day in a state of uncertainty, without the ability to plan and assurances to count on, the days can become aimless.
So take time to honor the bumps & bruises. We don’t have to wallow, but the little hurts still sting, and that doesn’t make us any less strong to take a moment and acknowledge that a bad day is a bad day.
These are the tiny reminders that we connect. That people are more than passing branches in a stream. Isolation and frustration are universal. Conversations and faces are essential. How many times before the 2020 pandemic did we take for granted being able to gather together? The pleasantries that used to seem inconsequential are now, in absence, a greater loss than we could have imagined. We’re more alike than we are different because we’re more human than we are anything else.
Hugs. High Fives. Physical gestures are now measured and weighed and often foregone. So let’s cherish the ones we can still enjoy: the impromptu hugs of our children, the touch of a loved one, the gestures of solidarity. And when we return to a world that no longer forbids physical affection, let us reach across aisles, tables, doorways, and rooms to pull the people we care about into our arms.
Hot coffee first thing in the morning. Snacks in the cupboard. Comfortable chairs and soft leggings. Life is a series of minutes, not hours. As we converted our homes into classrooms and office spaces, as we converted our lives into small squares of safety nets, we looked around. We grabbed the lamps and rugs and cushions. We pulled the board games out of the cupboard and laced up our sneakers for a walk through the forest. We called a friend and just talked. We sat on decks in the sun and read a book. We took a breath.
Our lives do not have to stop progressing. We do not have to cease exploring. There is happiness to be found, goals to be attained, and love to be appreciated. But only if we really dial down & take note of the small stuff.