Every Day is Saturday

Finding Joy in the Here and Now

What Really Matters

on June 3, 2014

 

 

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This past weekend my friends at the dance academy needed help with their spring musical, so I found myself (once again) in charge of the body mics. I did the same thing for them a year ago; at the end of every year the children’s musical theatre class puts on an hour-long production. It wasn’t Phantom of the Opera, but the kids had fun and I enjoyed keeping my hand in the game, so to speak.

While we were setting up, my friend the director and I were talking about the show and all the things that needed to happen to make sure it ran smoothly. At one point during a discussion about the best distribution method for the prop doughnuts my friend looked at me and said “It’s not a big deal, but it’s important.” I replied “If we didn’t think it was important we wouldn’t do this.” That exchange made me think about what’s really important, and I’ve decided that what I think matters probably isn’t what a lot of people think.

I’ve decided that what’s important, what really matters in life, isn’t necessarily the big things. I’m not saying that making a big impact on the world in a positive way is not a completely worthwhile goal to have – it is. If you get a chance to change the world for the better, take it! It’s just that most of us don’t get the opportunity to do really big things very often. Most of us have ordinary lives, where the impact we can make on the world around us is limited to the people directly in our sphere of contact – our family, our friends, our neighbors. So if that’s the case, the little things become much more important.

What are the little things? To me, it’s how I always try to smile and be pleasant to everyone with whom I come into contact – the cashier at the grocery store, the waiter at the restaurant, the lady at the dry cleaners, they guy behind the deli counter. I know it sounds Pollyanna of me, but I can’t help but think that these folks deal with the public all day, and probably get the brunt of our collective bad mood, so if I can make their day a little more pleasant by being nice, which costs me nothing, then I will. That’s a very little thing, but I like to think it helps someone every now and then.

Another “little thing” is the quality of the focus that I give to my work. All of my work, no matter what it is. It is as important to make sure that the child actor’s microphone is on and at the proper level when they sing as it is to draft an email communication for a client as it is to take my time over these blog posts. Everything I do deserves my full commitment and attention, even if it’s just balancing the checkbook or mopping the kitchen floor. The love you give away to these activities imbues them with positive energy, ensuring that they come back to you kindly.

Life mostly happens in the trenches, where the rubber meets the road, down in the nitty-gritty – or any other cliché you can think of that means where the little things are. It’s in those small, every day opportunities we get to make the world a better place, even if it’s just the world we can see right in front of us. What I’ve found, though, is that if you get into the habit of paying attention to the little stuff, when the bigger stuff comes along you’re already used to being kind and focused and thoughtful. Some people call it “mindfulness” and I think that’s a great word. It’s a habit of seeing everything as important and acknowledging that on some level, it all really does matter.

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Photo by Amanda Taylor Brooks (c) 2014

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