This I Believe

Brett - Gainesville, Florida
Entered on January 19, 2007

Sweat the Small Stuff

I volunteer 3 hours per week at a facility that provides housing for cancer patients. Tonight, I sit at the front desk performing small tasks because it’s after hours. I smile, say hellos to people who pass by, and answer an occasional phone call.

The facility where I volunteer allows patients to bring a friend or family member with them; however, the primary sources of camaraderie for many residents are the staff and other residents.

But tonight was supposed a different night- a special night. Groups come from time to time to provide entertainment, laughter, and love for the residents, nothing big or extravagant, but fun. 2 such groups were scheduled to come tonight. 2 groups failed to show up. 2 groups failed to call. The residents are some of the most gracious, and understanding people I have ever met, so although there was a little disappointment, they forgave in an instant.

There has never been an evening I’ve spent here that residents haven’t thanked me for volunteering my time for the cause. 3 hours per week I give back to my community. This time seems so small compared to the pain and suffering these amazing people endure on a daily basis. 3 hours per week is trivial and I receive far too much credit for the small responsibilities I have.

My experience has taught me to look at the saying “don’t sweat the small stuff” in different light. What would happen if we did sweat the small stuff? I believe that the “small stuff” has a tremendous impact on the lives of others. If we all changed our daily routine to include a few, small, selfless moments the world would be a pretty remarkable place. So hold a door for someone else, smile at a stranger, make a call to let people know your plans have changed. And though it’s not the message of this essay, think about volunteering 3 hours a week; you might discover that your problems are pretty small after all.