“don’t sweat the small stuff.” you remember the book, filled with tips on how to keep from letting the little things in life drive you crazy. no doubt, it served its purpose. for those of us stressed with the harried pace of life, the moral was clear: keep your perspective and don’t get consumed by trivial distractions that prevent you from cherishing the things that matter.
but lately i’ve found that those big “things that matter” can also take their toll. in a perfect world, we’d all spend our time languishing on nobler pursuits, like finding our passion, being good parents, spending quality time with loved ones, or even just pausing to self-reflect. they’re lovely ideals, but when we fall short, we bear the weight of those big things. they’re heavy. they can burden us. they threaten to make our weary legs buckle. we feel even more frustrated because we can’t seem to hold it all up.
that’s when i fall back on the little things. i’ve come to accept that in life, there will always be a certain ebb and flow to our productivity, our inspiration, our feelings of fulfillment or lack thereof. yet the little things remind us that all is not lost.
lately i’ve found a sliver of meaning in the least likely place: my daily commute. it’s minute really, a half hour sliver that follows the frenzied morning scramble and precedes a deluge of emails and meetings, and tasks and to-dos.
for a brief moment each morning, it’s solitude. my time. and something strange happens when i step on the train. in a sea of commuters, i am calm. in my head, yet totally soaking in all that surrounds me. sometimes i get off at the right stop. and sometimes i don’t.
off the beaten path, sure i see the vistas, the sparkling expanse of city that lies before me. but my eye is also drawn to the corners, to shadows, to colors and textures—the oft overlooked details of the city as daylight breaks.
“god is in the details,” so mies van de rohe said. i think he’s right. i know it’s not much. in the scheme of things—of all i want to do or be—it’s not nearly enough. but it’s something.
steal moments just for you. trust me, it's hard, but as a friend recently reminded me: force yourself. in the car. on the train. take the long way. get lost. get found…a little goes a long way.