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A Place for a Titmouse

April 19, 2016

Sequoia treeWhat is the purpose of the giant sequoia tree? The purpose of the giant sequoia tree is to provide shade for the tiny titmouse.” -Edward Abbey

I agree with Edward Abbey. Sometimes we get so distracted by big things that we forget the importance of small ones. I usually talk about writing-related things here and this quote certainly applies there, but that’s not the only place. It covers a much wider range – in fact, every facet of life.

One small example: My mother loved to cook. She expressed love with food. I remember as a young woman wishing that I could give her a shiny new kitchen, one with all the bells and whistles. Now I wish I’d thought to bring her flowers every now and then. Not huge, expensive arrangements. A handful of freshly picked blooms from a daughter who’s a klutz in the kitchen would probably have meant more to her than a whole array of the shiniest gadgets. There are so many other instances when I could have done some small, thoughtful thing for her – or for other people in my life – or for strangers. Moments I let slip by when I could have taken a couple of minutes to do something seemingly inconsequential – and made someone feel important.

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this. I think we all let small the opportunity slip by because we’re busy dreaming of  the grand gesture.

Writers may be the more guilty than most. We so long for the satisfaction of a completed manuscript that we forget to savor the individual words as they go on the page, the small details that build the story, the description of a place that exists only in our imagination, the little tic of personality that defines a character we’re creating. These are the things that make a story come alive for a reader.  I know the things I remember when I think of my favorite books are not huge, dramatic plot points. A tiny throw-away detail that connects me to a character, a setting, or a situation will stay with me long after I’ve forgotten the plot.

Is there any need to say more about this? I don’t think so. I’ll keep it short in honor of the tiny titmouse.

Have a good week, my friends – and remember not to pass up an opportunity to do a small act of kindness. It may go unnoticed, but it may have an impact you’ll never know about.

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