Graduation always makes me happy. It’s the best day of the year, as far as my job is concerned—the day we work toward with each class of students, our main reason we do what we do. If faculty do their jobs and students do theirs, the result is Graduation Day. And it’s glorious.
It’s also Big. It’s often the biggest day in a student’s life so far, although we certainly have plenty who have had wedding days or children’s births, or some other Big celebrations, but by and large, it’s a milestone. It’s a time to be proud of hard work and perseverance and a time of excitement (and anxiety) about the future.
In some very concrete ways, we’re taught to measure our life out in these Big Things, as if there’s a checklist everyone’s privy to. High School? College? First big job? First promotion? First car? Marriage? First home? Children?
With a laundry list like that to check off, young people might well be intimidated, might be inclined to feel lesser if they miss one or two or five of those accomplishments.
I’m here to tell you not that the Big Things are a lie, but that you can make your own list, and that you shouldn’t get hung up on it. The Big Things are the frame of your life, the dots in the connect-the-dots image of you. But the Little Things—that’s where you live.
And if you stay focused on the Big Things, you miss the Little Things.
It’s a balance, of course, as all things are.We have to pan out, like Ansel Adams, and see the big picture, how we want the shape of our life to look. But we can’t dwell there. Most of our lives are spent in the middle ground—dealing with people and surroundings we encounter. I’d like to advocate for as many close-ups as you can squeeze in—attentive moments where you really see how full of wonder the Little Things are.
Here is an underwhelmingly incomplete list of Little Things that I have come to see as Big Things in my life. It’s just a matter of changing your lens. Have fun out there.
- · Hot tea on a cool morning
- · Sleeping in
- · Sunscreen
- · Walking dogs
- · Thank-you cards
- · Yogurt pretzels (sweet and salty, creamy and crunchy—what more can you ask for?)
- · Dogs who pose for portraits
- · Homemade bread
- · Goodnight kisses
- · Poems
- · Tweezers
- · Card games
- · Used books
- · Snail mail
- · A good murder mystery
- · Family photos
- · Crossword puzzles
- · Wildflowers
- · Handmade cards (anything handmade, really)
- · Squirrels
- · Learning something new
- · Running in to an old friend
- · Stumbling across a favorite something you haven’t seen in a while
What does your list look like?