Mazzuca: The little things
A teacher once asked a class of middle school students if they could identify the Seven Wonders of the World. Though there was some disagreement among the students, the Great Pyramids of Egypt, the Taj Mahal, the Grand Canyon, St. Peter’s Basilica, The Empire State Building, the Panama Canal and the Great Wall of China received the most votes.
While gathering the votes the teacher noticed that one student, a quiet little girl who was sitting in the corner of the room, failed to turn in her answers, so the teacher asked the youngster if she was having difficulty with her list. The little girl said, “Yes, a little. I couldn’t quite make up my mind because there are so many.”
The teacher responded by asking the little girl to tell the class what she had come up with and that perhaps her fellow students could help. The little girl hesitated for a moment and said, “OK then, I think the seven wonders are, to touch; to taste; to see; to hear, to feel; to laugh and to love.” The room became so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.
The quiet little girl had challenged her classmates to think a little differently and at the same time reminded us that things we often overlook as simple and ordinary are often the most important, and best of all, we don’t have to travel very far to experience them.
It’s unfortunate that the more we see things around us the more they become invisible to us, and it’s because we do see these things so often that we take them for granted. I know that when my life gets a bit out of kilter and the bubble is a touch off-center, I try to remind myself to “enjoy the little things in life, for one day I know I’ll look back and realize they were the big things.”
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Little things are vital to our well-being; having that first cup of coffee in the morning, a good hair day when we can’t stop admiring ourselves in the mirror, meeting a cute little puppy and having it wag its tail and “dance with glee” just because we noticed it. Or perhaps the “little thing” is having an interesting conversation with a stranger on a chairlift, or being appreciated at work or finally finishing that last item on your to-do list.
Life is made up of precious moments, and when we collect these moments in our memory we never feel alone. Interestingly too, these moments can occur anywhere and anytime, even under the most trying of circumstances.
Once in Vietnam, a squadron mate told me he kept his sanity by making it a point to stop and really appreciate the smile from a hooch maid after he gave her a tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush for her little boy, or when a corpsman might give a thumbs up while administering to a wounded Marine in the back of the helicopter after a successful medevac.
It’s the small things that bring us happiness, even if we experience them momentarily. And when something causes our soul to smile, we need to hold on to it, savor it and cherish it. There’s magic to paying attention to the little things because when we focus on the little things we gradually shift our thoughts from what is missing in our lives to what is there.
As we walk through life we should all find that the little things are really the biggest things, and more importantly, they’re also the best things.
Quote of the day: “I have learned that to be with those I like is enough.” —Walt Whitman