The Little Things

By: H.A. Spinelli

The little things. What are they? How do we know when we see them, experience them, or in some less-than-flattering instances, when we become them? No matter how differently they manifest, they are a common thread in the human experience. When the little things surface, they are more than what their name suggests. They are the building blocks, the bedrock upon which our larger physical and metaphysical structures securely rest. Conversely, these little things are also those same structures that propel the moments of impossible despair and the near-crumbling of our so-called foundations. No matter their form, the little things birth occurrences much larger than we can ever imagine.

Close your eyes. Picture the year’s grand celebrations. The tallest buildings. The ocean’s uncharted depths. A mountain’s magnitude. The span of the sky. The mindblowing philosophical questions to which you seek answers, and the monumental moments of your life. What would all of these be? What would they mean, without the little things?

Little things are fleeting. No matter what the circumstance, they are obscured in the passing of time; that is, unless they find themselves perfectly aligned like that final piece of the puzzle whose shiny picture on the box reflects all the hopes and dreams we can muster on a soggy Friday night with a ticking clock mocking our inability to finish the task at hand.

The little things complete the mosaic we are too busy piecing together to notice its infant stages. We look back, and somehow, we always remember the last selection, the final touch, or the grand crescendo that culminates in the mirror image obscured by the light’s glare bouncing off the puzzle box. We get that last piece to fit, and the whole thing mutters a lifeless, “Congratulations.” We feel accomplished. Whole. Complete. Then the moment waivers. The picture grows fuzzy as our lens zooms out. We can’t refocus. The picture blurs into obscurity. The moment is transient. Suddenly, it’s gone. Elusive once again. The light’s flicker dulls the imaginary crowd’s roar cascading in our heads and falls away to nothing more than a memory’s echo. Silence ushers in, and all is still. We are back to square one.

How often do we remember the little things that made this puzzling victory, or any of our victories possible? The little things are the vehicle mechanizing the carefully constructed stories replaying in our minds’ nickelodeons. When we hear the coin drop and when the music’s opening note greets us, we choose to remember things as we think we know they were. Only, they weren’t that way at all.

On their own, the little things are not considerable. They are, in fact, ancillary. However, if we take a moment to stop and reflect on their birth, their presence, we see that they are the tiny fibers of who we are and all that is around us. Together, these little things weave a familiar-feeling, yet unrecognizable pattern that, upon much deeper inspection, crafts the stunning fabric of our humanity and the epic tales of our lives. The little things may not matter in the day-to-day, but they somehow manage to appear, to reach out with a loving touch to comfort us in times of need. They are the routine moments that make us feel safe. The little things mother us. They give us the gentle push we need to press on when discovering something new in the paradox of a magnificent and unsteady world.

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