Thursday, February 5, 2009

SMALL THINGS MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Snow had been pouring from the iron-gray sky for the better part of an hour. Now, the storm was over and the wind had stilled, leaving every limb and branch and twig with a frosting of fluffy white. A scene of winter wonderland. When I stepped outside the first thing I noticed was the quiet, though a muted stillness oddly lacking in comfort, as if the world at hand were collectively stunned. An uneasy silence, tense, discomfited, even while I stood amid the yard’s familiar surroundings. The river ten feet below the bank slipped along soundless as a furtive shadow. The woods on the island across from the cottage looked foreboding, as if something brought in by the storm might be lurking amid its dense tangles. And the big sycamore, stolid and ancient, which leans like a wise Druid in a nearby corner near the drive, was remote, guarding its secrets like an old friend who refuses to speak or smile. Maybe it was the light that set this mood, for the sky remained flat and dull—exuding a sort of midmorning gloom that robbed the powdery snow of its crystalline sparkle. Or perhaps it was just me—a seed of melancholy trying to sprout and grow, a sudden onset of low spirits caused by circumstances and worries and a feeling that I was on the verge of becoming shallow and trivial…worthless; an inconsequential man living a banal life. Whatever it was closed around me like a dark and heavy blanket. How long I stood there I couldn’t say—five minutes, ten? Long enough that the cold in the air and the chill in my soul met and melded, a numbing both corporal and spiritual. And then…and then, a robin flew in and landed in a nearby tree. Such as small thing, a winged trifle, merely an incidental addition to the immediate landscape. What difference could a small bird make? As it turned out—everything! In an moment relief washed over me like a cleansing flood. My spirits were instantaneously lifted, my heart filled anew with faith and hope and joy. The morning was beautiful and mine to savor. I was the luckiest man on earth. How often it is that a small act makes a big difference. We forget this truth regularly, waiting for the profound change, the monumental moment, stuck in the notion that significance is related to size. Yet time and again it’s the little things that count—a kind word, a hug, a kiss on the cheek. Not much. A letter or card, a phone call, a meal shared, a visit. Maybe just a handshake or a pat on the shoulder. Really, not much at all. Any good photographer or painter knows that sometimes all you need in a scene is that one detail, a tiny highlight or a dab of color. The slightest of additions can change everything, make all the difference. It’s the small things that give life value. The sweet damp of an April morning. The silkiness of your child’s hair when you give them a friendly tousle. The light you see in your true love’s eyes as you stare at one another across a candlelit table. A single word can give courage. A simple handshake can create trust. Just being there, in shared and understanding silence, a friend, when words and gestures fail. That single robin sitting in a tree overlooking the river was not particularly colorful, and as Ohio birds go—even in winter—it certainly wasn’t uncommon. But it was the detail that invoked the change…in both the scene and me. Small things make a difference

10 comments:

The Solitary Walker said...

Indeed. So true.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Thank you, Solitary.

giggles said...

The gloom you expressed is the gloom I feel today....
But, indeed, it is the small things...like a post on a blog...and the visitors who come by, check you out and then confirm with kind words that you indeed do make a difference in this world.... I missed reading you yesterday and am glad you are back today...exploring the beautiful, serene white (with specks of color!) world around you.

We got some real stuff here, too.... It was gorgeous while it lasted...

You may get a chuckle out of this little morsel, too.... We have 2 carolina wrens...they've been in the garage now five days in a row.... I was thinking that they were flying in when my hubby leaves for work in the wee hours...but no! We finally figured out that they are slipping in late afternoons before we close everything up for the night and staying indoors.... They then sing in the morn when they are ready to get out for the day! There may be a nest?!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Giggles…

Happiness is a choice, or so they say. But sometimes I think we all have a find a reason for making that choice, because there's always the underlying human need for purpose. Doesn't take much, though. A robing on a snowy limb or a Carolina wren in the garage.

Take care; find purpose…enjoy your happiness.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Wonderful post!

I've been reading your blog for a while now, and 'shallow and trivial' are certainly not words I would use to describe you!

'A seed of melancholy trying to sprout and grow' ... How diligent one has to be to root these pestilential things out.

And how lovely when they are suddenly washed away by a 'small thing'!

I'm constantly digging the ground of my mind over to get rid of the weeds and keep it open to the lovely small things.

'Winged trifle' - another phrase of yours that I'm going to write on a piece of paper for the wall next to my computer!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Raph…

As a wise Pogo once said, "We have met the enemy, and they is us!"

Or as John Denver sang, "Some days are diamonds, some days are coal…"

I do appreciate your kind words.

Anonymous said...

Aah, the delicacy of living.
I really enjoyed this post.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Anonymous…

The delicacy, indeed! Thank you.

KGMom said...

Your robin must either be a VERY early first robin, or a quite tardy last robin.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

KGMom…

I'd guess this was "residenteer" robin, one of the robins that usually winter hereabouts, eking out their daily fare by scratching around in the wooded underbrush on the island across from the cottage.

Not all of 'em take the south-bound bus! Of course the look on it face may be a one of second guessing…humm-m-m…Palm trees or snow?…Palm trees or snow?…Now again, why didn't I do palm trees?