It’s the little things

I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things… I play with leaves. I skip down the street and run against the wind.

Leo Buscaglia

Life is made up, not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things, in which smiles and kindness, and small obligations given habitually, are what preserve the heart and secure comfort.

Humphry Davy

I have a magpie mind, by which I mean I see and hear little things – photos, fragments of conversation – and store them away for future use.

Laurie Graham

This morning I was overjoyed at a trivial yet wholly satisfying happenstance. while concocting my morning latte (with delicious dark chocolate) As I grabbed the milk to pour into the frothing cup, I felt it was almost empty. I wasn’t concerned, as I had another jug of milk in the fridge. But I do hate pouring those last couple of milliliters into the cup from a full jug of milk. It’s a little thing, but a pain. And yet as I poured the the milk into the cup, I was stunned to see that I had the exact amount needed left in this jug! As the last bead of milk dropped off the mouth of the jug I felt such a sense of… well, almost euphoria. It was going to be a good day.

That paragraph begs the question. Was it a good day. The short answer is yes. But could I ever leave it with the short answer? Those who know me don’t have to check the magic 8 ball, they know. Nope. Big ol’ nope. So, was it really a good day? ​Well, let’s discuss.

Yes, it was a good day. Not as good as some, but better than most. Yet the reason I’m continuing to write is because of the reason. This isn’t an overly complicated blog post, nor is it some new and profound piece of human thought. Most of you already know. It was a good day because of me. An innocuous event happened, but I noticed, and for whatever reason it sparked joy in my life. Thank you Marie Kondo. This got me to thinking. I thought of “stop and smell the roses”, and other little sayings. Take a moment. Breath. Be glad you have breath. Try to focus on what positive things you can. This led me to one of my first connected world memories.

I was visiting family in New York. And I was on the toilet. Doing what one does while in that situation. Tired of reading the shampoo labels I saw a book on Zen. Reading through it I really liked what was striking my eyeballs. I thought, I’d really like to have a copy of this. So I scanned the ISBN with my phone, and ordered a copy. On the toilet. Now this has been easily over a decade ago, so that was a new thing. Why do I mention this? Well, honestly I just like that little anecdote. However Zen does have something to do with it.

Many decades ago while working at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, I was at a safety meeting, and the speaker was an enlightened person. During the safety meeting they alluded to being alert and observant of one’s surroundings in the Zen precept of “walk while walking”. Sadly at that time I was not remotely enlightened and thought it was silly. As did most of those around me. We all thought the presenter was one of those kooks. Yet that idea stuck with me. Eventually it sank in. I started realizing what this Zen saying was actually saying. At least to me. Be mindful, and of no mind (oh god, here we go. Kookiness). I take this, for me, to be grounded and in the moment. Which is very hard for me. I’m a dreamer. When I can clear my head of these dreams I do try to be in the moment. Walk while walking. Smell the roses. Notice the phenomenal event of the exact amount of milk being left in the jug. Take it for what it’s worth, a random event. What are the odds? Well, it’s probably calculable, just not by me. Pretty slim I’d guess, but not impossible. Rare enough though to be, potentially, significant to a noticer (made up word alert). I strive to be a noticer. Of the little things at least.

For today, I take away that need to be aware. Aware of the little things. An accountant friend once said, “mind the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.” Perhaps this applicable to the little things of life. If we mind these little things, then perhaps the big things will, by extension, be taken care of. But with this awareness, I think there is a caveat to all this. Which I’ll write about in a followup blog post.

Peace and love

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