This I Believe

Mary - Winchester, Virginia
Entered on September 8, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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Little Things

I love laundry duty. I love empty mayonnaise jars. I love dirty little hands. I believe that simple, seemingly insignificant things define our lives and make us happy. These moments are always there, begging to be found and unleashed.

I look forward to doing laundry. It’s not that I enjoy lugging my hamper of dirty clothes down the apartment steps; I love it because there is nothing more wonderful than curling up in warm clothes, straight from the drier, scented of daisies and fresh linen. I find simple happiness in feeling the warmth radiating from the clothes, remembering my mother who would hand me fresh-from-the-drier socks to keep my toes warm. There is simple gratification in knowing that even when I am far from home, meaningless tasks have the power to remind me that I am loved by someone; even if it is as uncomplicated as a warm pair of clean socks for a winter morning.

I remember that same love when my grandmother would wash out empty mayonnaise jars for me on warm summer nights. I tightly clutched the jar as I raced around the backyard, fingers stretching for those flickering lights twinkling in the night sky. I remember the pleasure of cupping the pulsing beams of life, and watching them, wings fluttering in the jar, waving to grandma. A time before mayonnaise jars were simply emptied and discarded by most people, never given then chance to be seen for the thrilling possibilities they contain.

Simple, magical moments remain with us, like fingerprints on our hearts and minds. I grew to love the dirty little hands that clutched mine during a mission trip. The young faces of the children were weathered by unspoken hardships, yet their eyes shone with hope as they traced the contours of my face with curious fingers. They opened a world of simplicity, where the tiniest things, like beaded bracelets and balloon animals were priceless. They treasured what most children in America expect – this humbled me. It was their dirty little hands that I loved; the grasping hands that snatched up each thing, each moment, because of the fear that they would never be given another. It’s those same outstretched fingers that appear as I tutor my students, and I remember the children and those dirty little fingers that unknowingly made me want to become a teacher.

Often times, it’s the little things you do without second thought that mean the world to another person. Like the light in the eyes of the man behind the front desk who leans in to tell me I am the only person that bothers to say thank you when I pick up a room key. Finding these little things takes no talent; sometimes it’s as undemanding as taking the extra two seconds to give a smile. But I believe it’s the little, seemingly unimportant things that define who we are and make the world better; if we just take the moment to find them.