It’s the Little Things

I read a poem years ago entitled “It’s the Little Things That Count.” Sometimes I think that in my search for big things, I disregard the little things that define my daily life. Recently I was looking for a big thing and met dead ends. I wanted to do more with my career, to face new challenges and yet enjoy aspects of my career that brought me joy. I had come to a point where I felt stuck. Singer, songwriter Paul Simon admitted to occasionally having writer’s block or “being stuck.” His definition of stuck was, everywhere he went, led him where he didn’t want to be (paraphrased from an interview with Dick Cavette in April 1970, discussing his song “Bridge Over Troubled Water”). My search for something big was grounded in the collective memories of the little things that made each previous job unique, challenging, and fun. When I decided to risk change, search my heart, trust myself and the universe, and leap, what happened was big. I found a place where I could ensconce myself in the community, advocate for things that matter to me, and work with others to create impactful changes. I am a happy person. Today, I am even happier.

While I’m grateful for this recent big thing, I am mindful of little things. I love to explore on foot, whether it’s a walk in the woods or a well-worn path in my neighborhood. When I walk, I often stop to smell my favorite irises or peony roses. I also try not to get frustrated with my dog when he too, stops for an extra sniff or searches for the chicken bone he found the day before. Smells stay with us. I can still smell the gardenia blooming outside my apartment in Santa Monica and planted one in my East Coast garden because gardenias make me smile. I’m as guilty as anyone for taking the little things for granted. But when I make space for them in my life, when I “stop and smell the roses,” as my mother would say, they connect me to people and places in my memory and bring me joy. They tell a story. These stories ground me and lead me in both big and little ways.

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