The Power of Small Things

Laura - Aurora, Oregon
Entered on December 15, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50

This I Believe

I believe in the power of small things. Bess in the nursing home told me how she longed to go out in the woods with a watermelon that so she could just “spit the seeds.” Why should she have longed for such a small thing and why should I remember her wish all these years later? Ninety years on our planet and this is what she missed, watermelon seeds.

People in later stages of life bring up details, moments with no particular context, seemingly insignificant things. A few months before her death, my grandmother told me a story she had never told me before about a winter when the snowdrifts piled so high the kids started their sled runs from the rooftops. Another friend, an older gentleman also in the nursing home remembered mowing the lawn on weekday evenings and the way his wife’s voice sounded calling him to dinner.

I am afraid that we are losing our appreciation for the small, the mundane and the particular. Often when I go to lunch, I come back empty handed because the aisles I walked and the menus I saw gave me a numb feeling. I am looking for something, anything real, and I don’t even know what I mean by that. I think I want something that was made rather than produced. A handmade cookie. A bowl of soup made from scratch, an apple that fell from a tree.

I am fortunate to work in the medical field with accomplished people who do important work. Yet, like all people, it’s the little things that get us through our days. A few of the medical staff have bird feeders outside their office windows. When there have been reasons to switch offices, this is one of the first things that comes up. Will the new location provide a good spot for birds?

The other day, one of the doctors that I work with revealed to me that she thinks that one, and maybe only one, of the red wigglers I gave her to compost her garbage, might have made it, in spite of the fact that she knows little about worms. Earlier this summer she thought she had killed them all but now this one, as she tells it, “poked his head out of the compost.” “Poor fella,” she said. “He’s having to do the work of five hundred.”

I’m sure if one made it, there are dozens more. And I know that right now they are busy breaking down potato peels, eggshells and orange rinds. They are turning them into rich, black soil that will bring houseplants back to life.

I believe in that worm.