When I was in junior high (for those of you not used to that terminology because you are either from another country or are too damn young to have ever experienced it….junior high was from grade 7-9…none of this “elementary” from daycare to grade 8 and then BAM you are in the BIG pond now stuff!) I had a teacher who was writing something on the blackboard. Not once, not twice, but three times, as she was writing the chalk broke, leaving her will a little stub. I was no longer able to hold it in. I chuckled….okay….I laughed….OUT LOUD. Her response was to glare at me and say, “Small things amuse small minds.” My response (because I cannot hold this stuff in) was, “Then you must find ants to be quite entertaining.” Off to the principal’s office I went. Again. I visited there quite a bit. We knew each other on a first name basis. He did not like that I knew his first name and would use it, but I did anyway. I was never the type to have a “system” dictate anything to me. So saying things like “sir” and “madame” and “Mr. whatever” just as a form of respect, which they had not yet earned, really never flew. I knew we are all equal, and when they would challenge me on this I would say, “It is my spiritual belief that we are all equal, we are all teachers and we are all learners and it really does not matter what your status is because we are all the same.” They would not know how to handle this. My mother got a LOT of phone calls during those years of my life. Her response was always, “I have raised him to be a strong and independent thinker, and if you can’t handle that, then perhaps you need to upgrade your own schooling.” Had “home schooling” been available waaaay back then, I would have been a prime candidate. There was a time, however, when my mother regretted how she raised me. It was third year university and I had gone to visit my parents for the weekend. My mother and I rarely fought, but on this occasion we got into it (don’t even remember what it was about so many years later). At one point she looked at me and said, “Who ARE you and what did you do with my baby boy?!” I responded with, “You raised me to be a strong, independent thinking, grown ass man, so this is YOUR fault.” We both ended up almost peeing our pants laughing.
I never did like that phrase, “small things amuse small minds” and here is why. It teaches us to only observe and appreciate the HUGE things in life. This means that the grand gestures become more important in relationships than do the small things that SHOW how much a person loves you. It also means that we have become a culture that is geared toward having the largest television set, the most expensive vehicle, the biggest house, the shiniest diamond ring etc.
I find that none of those things matter to me. As long as I can see what is going on on the screen, I don’t care what size of tv we own. As long as I have an operational and comfortable vehicle, I don’t care what make or model it is. As long as my house can shelter my family and provide me with a place out of which I can do my work, I don’t care about the square footage. And I can buy my own bloody diamonds, so that will never sway me in any way.
It truly is the small things that bring song to my heart. The glistening of a dew drop on a leaf in the morning sun, the glorious exuberance with which a flower will bloom, the gentle song of a bird, the look in a dog’s eye when it finds something interesting to investigate, the taste of a good cup of coffee, the sound of laughter from a friend, or even better, from a small child, the fact that someone else changed the toilet paper roll this time….all those things are prime examples of the stuff that is down to earth, practical, and makes life completely enriched.
We live in a world that teaches us to disengage from our environment. I invite everyone reading this to leave that matrix behind. Turn your attention to stuff AROUND you, and the stuff within you, instead of to stuff on the screen of your device. Take time to sit in silence, without having to have music playing or a tv roaring in the background. Take the ear buds out of your ears and listen to the gentle sounds of nature. Stop tuning out, and start tuning IN. As Jean Luc Picard (my favorite Star Trek character) would say, “ENGAGE!”