the big importance of small things
Sitting in the car, my sweetie at the wheel, the sun is shining, life is good. Except I was on my phone.
“Watcha learning?” He casually asks this when he sees me on my phone a little too long. "Just reading something that's caught my attention." I replied.
I wasn’t scrolling through IG though. Instead I was sent a sweet note in Messenger from a former student.
I've received 2 of these special messages over the years, and I want to tell you how much they mean to me. These beautiful little love notes are unexpected, unnecessary, and a sweet surprise.
Seriously, I was grateful for all of the beautiful humans I taught over 23 years. I don't need to know anything except that to keep me satisfied with my previous career. But the delight these notes brought was so full with thankfulness, I couldn't help but be wrapped in their warm glow.
Why don’t we do more of them?
It reminds me of an experiment Marty Seligman did with students at Harvard. The father of Positive Psychology asked his students to write a gratitude letter to someone who’s helped or been especially kind to them and who hasn’t been properly thanked. He then added, deliver it in person.
There it is people. Could you imagine getting one of those in person?
What a sweet gift. Two ways. The beauty of giving without expectation, whether it’s words, a hug, an item, your time. Both the giver and receiver reap the rewards to the psyche and heart.
It's tough though isn't it? We live in a time where we’ve allowed fear to have the upper hand. Where we can love thy neighbor only as long as he/she/they looks and thinks the same way we do. Words from the heart and expressions of kindness are seen as a little bit radical. Consider the last time you spoke from the heart? Think of all the small talk, or weather talk you do in a day? Just saying.
Listen, gratitude is simply the quality of being thankful. It’s not always easy but it’s always available.
It's also completely do-able. Thank you is a complete sentence when said with sincerity versus politeness.
Listen to your heart, it’ll lead the way.
Back to my inbox love notes, though.
The gold in these little letters were the things my former students were thankful for. The small things:
- You gave me bites of your food
- You always made sure I was trying my best
- You told me not to give up
- You listened
- You read my stories
- You talked to me about Star Trek (live long and prosper)
Mostly, we link successful life moments to big, bold, and brash. But the most fulfilling, meaningful success is in the “I see you” moments. These are usually small, seemingly insignificant things. A look. A word. A smile. When the thread of connection between two human beings is sewn.
Wisdom tells us, there’s lots of bullshit in life that doesn’t matter. Yet, we give our time and energy away all the time to it. Worry. Stuff. Gossip. Social media. Opinions. If we’re liked. How much you know. The past. Fear (of so much, including death). Other people’s “stuff”.
Counter that with a few things that do matter. You. Me. Your babies (small and big). Your family. Human beings (whether they agree with you or not). This amazing, wonderful planet. Looking out for your neighbour. The sun on your cheek. Laughter. Friends. A hug when you’ve lost hope. A hug when you’re joyful. The sting of the cold reminding you you’re alive. A poem that makes you gasp with recognition. Learning and growing and evolving. Love.
Don't underestimate the big importance of small things, ever. They carry the power of hope and have the ability to create a direction that may be unseen by any of us.
So here’s my ask. Let go of the need to know, act in the name of small things, and rely on faith that it’ll be good.
Wouldn’t that be nice? And totally do-able.
Start with a love note maybe. Here's mine...
To every single one of my students (you know who you are). I want you to know that each one of you left a thumbprint on my heart. You changed me. I grew and became because of you. You taught me patience. You gave me joy. You made me dig deep and understand that everything is figureoutable. Being with you felt like coming home. From your dandelion bouquets to your tooth losing smiles you were beautiful. You are beautiful. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I’m sorry if I wasn’t what you always wanted me to be. Humans never are. But I tried, as we all do. I learned and grew along the way. And I hope I made you feel that you mattered. Because you do. I am so grateful for you all.
Love Mrs. Bashforth
Try a small thing of your own.
love + blessings