Have you ever thought about the little things? Did you stop today to say hello and thank you to someone today? Did you look into someone’s eyes? Did you take time to see the scenery around you?
I recently read an essay by Rabbi Steve Leder, “Why a Little Can Be A Lot”. In this essay reposted in Maria Shrivers Sunday Morning Newsletter, Rabbi Leder reminds us how easy it is for little things can come between us – some gossip – a thank you note that was never written- a phone call never returned – or an unkind words spoken.
He asks us to take a look at the butterfly and chaos theory. According to chaos theory the things that change the world are very tiny: a butterfly flutters it’s wings in the Amazon jungle and subsequently a storm ravaged half of Europe. The butterfly is a symbolic representation of an unknown quantity – the idea that predictably is impossible because something small can change everything.
Like Rabbi Leder, this made me think about the small things. Today I am flying back to the desert, sitting next to a lovely gentleman who followed in his fathers footsteps and is a fisherman in Alaska. Though I know nothing about fishing, I was fascinated by our connection. Like many fisherman, he once had problems with alcohol. Being out in the high seas was lonely at times. He shared that – today is not an issue. He spoke proudly about his children and wife; but most of all, he spoke about his father who had dementia and was his hero. He had worked with him for over 40 years. It was the little things he remembered that made me smile.
My colleague, Ed Storti, often says that interventions are living eulogies. We have families share those little things that are so special about a person: the way they set a table, sent us laughing, had a fine thanksgiving repast, were liked and gracious to all, said please and thank you, played ball in this gentleman’s case fisher together, etc.
Rabbi reminds us that when he gives a eulogy it’s never about the work someone did but rather it’s about the little things. I reflected back on my mother’s funeral; it was all about how kind she was to others, the great shrimp scampi she made, and how she welcomed all walks of like into her world, the transvestite who took care of her, the Black man who sang with her, the navy officer who played cards with her her granddaughters and who were mesmerized by her long, natural red nails.
Rabbi also suggests we can do a little better in our daily lives by practice random kindness, telling someone “I am proud of you,” making amends or saying “I was wrong, please consider forgiving me,” we can gossip less, and we can be present more.
We can put our cell phones away and listen when someone talks we can make one change, one easy and not too small to fail change that makes us a little healthier, a little more generous and more grateful. We can support our loved ones in recovery. We can all like the fluttering wings of a butterfly be present and say “I love you. I am here for you; now go spread your wings.”