thinking of you: the power of the small things
I’ll be the first to admit that life is complicated. So, the little things we do to be present in each other’s lives matter. The small gestures that say, simply, “I’m here.” We often make the mistake – in the age supersizing, reality tv, and people who spend a year’s salary on their wedding – of thinking that only the gigantic, over-the-top gestures matter. That is, quite honestly, untrue.
There’s a line in an e.e. cummings poem (“somewhere i have never travelled”) that has always stuck with me. It’s this: in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me. Sure, you can read assume that the word “frail” means weak or fragile. But in the context of the poem itself, I’d argue that it means small – as in a simple, non-grand gesture. The little things, however frail, matter.
Life can be crazy and intense. The day-to-day bullshit can be hectic. But those people who stop in the middle of their crazy to show you that they care? Appreciate them. They are the people who love you. You can have a billion friends, but the ones who you can call when you’re sad – or who call you when you’re sad – those friends matter. This past week, I was really lucky in the people who made a point to show me how much they care. A phone call meant the world to me. A text message made me smile. Even a brief message as simple as, “Thinking of you” made me happy. Stress might be cumulative (the little annoyances adding up), but I like to think that the small gestures are cumulative, too. These things offer comfort, reassure us, tell us we’re important, and (most importantly) that we are loved. And we all need to know that, don’t we?
When I first started to write this post, I had an entirely different goal. I had this revelatory moment about a friend – when I realized that person really isn’t my friend. Sure, we get along great. We’ve had awesome times together. But there’s a point when you’re objectively looking at a relationship, and you realize that what’s said and what’s done doesn’t match up. That is a powerful thing. It’s a bolt of lightning out of a clear blue sky, and you were in the wrong place and the wrong time. I’m a very understanding person. I will forever bend over backward and find a way to work things out – because life doesn’t work without compromising. But when a person routinely makes excuses for something, those are not reasons. When a person says one thing, but does another – that’s not honesty. And when that person leaves you hanging like the proverbial geek up the flagpole at all-jock high school – well, that’s kind of a huge red flag. Because while the good little gestures add up, the absence of those gestures do, too.
Life is too short to stay among those who do not celebrate the hell out of us. It is too short to stay surrounded by negativity or those who do not give as good as they get. All relationships need balance – it doesn’t matter if it’s your brother, best friend, lover, or wife. Don’t get me wrong: we all do stupid things from time to time. But when actions are habitual, that’s not an accident. People may not always say how they feel, but they do show you. Likewise, people always show you who they are.
You give for what you love, darlings. It’s as pure and simple as that. Yes, relationships are messy. Things will never be perfect. But the mess is what matters, because it’s real. It’s honest. It’s wonderfully sloppy. (Which explains the current state of my kitchen and the forever state of my closet…please don’t look in there. Organized chaos!) I don’t ever want neat or pristine, because that’s just smoke and mirrors. I want the brilliance of the little things and the honesty that comes with making time and space for someone else. That’s a powerful magic that seems like a small thing. Sure, the big gestures are awesome – but give me a soft word and a meaningful look any day, loves. I want frail gestures that enclose me.