Somewhere in town there is a nine-year-old boy named Everett who, I suspect, has a mother or grandmother who is teaching him that the small things in life matter.
This week, I stopped in at Blue Heron Books and there was a letter waiting for me. It was from Everett and it was a lovely letter of thanks for a book a bought him a few months ago. The letter, addressed to “Mr. Rogers,” came complete with Star Wars drawings. The letter is now taped to the wall next to my desk. I can’t tell you how much it meant to me.
At the same time, I received a Blue Heron gift card that was left for me by a lady and I have no idea who she might be. Again, I can’t tell you how much it meant to me.
There have been a few other instances of late where I have observed people doing little things that, although minor in the grand scale of the universe, nevertheless meant a lot. I was enjoying a cup of coffee at Veterans Memorial Park recently when a woman came out of her house to shovel the snow off the sidewalk. But she didn’t just clear the pathway in front of her home: she cleared the sidewalk from Reach Street to Bell Street.
A few days ago, someone went into the Bridge Social and paid for everyone’s coffee for the day. On New Year’s Eve, at midnight, I strolled to the corner of Brock and Church Streets. The streets were deserted except for one man who stepped out of his apartment, fired off some Chinese firecrackers and then went back inside. A small gesture, but it showed that at least one person wasn’t going to let this horrible COVID-19 thing prevent him from acknowledging a new beginning.
In this era of doom and gloom and monstrous weather events, it’s little things like this that keep us going. A friendly wave from a passerby or a toot on the horn from someone driving by can give someone that little lift that they desperately need right now. Hugs are few and far between these days, but my boss and my friend, Lisha, seems to know exactly when I need one.
As I said, it’s the little things that count. A friendly word or a kind gesture can mean the world to someone who is lonely or going through a rough patch. A word or gesture can take the edge off what at times can seem like a cold and brutal reality. And, gift cards and free coffees notwithstanding – (though much appreciated) – the little things usually don’t cost anything. But they can have big rewards: the good feeling that comes from helping someone, the happiness felt by bringing a smile to someone else’s face, the thought that someone might just “pay it forward.” It pays even bigger rewards when doing something nice for a complete stranger or doing something unexpected, rather like Scrooge buying a Christmas turkey for the Cratchits.
There is a lot of griping and grumbling going on nowadays – (and I’ve done my fair share) – and to a certain extent is it understandable. Whether it is COVID-19, ongoing evidence of climate change, the disastrous state of democracy in the U.S., the government’s approach to schooling in these difficult days or the fact that the Uxbridge Bruins are on hold, the news just seems to be bludgeoning us down nonstop. But if Everett can pick up a book that he will enjoy, if I can have a cup of coffee courtesy of a stranger, if the neighbours don’t have to shovel snow for just one day, then the bad news can be pushed aside, even if it’s just for a few brief moments.
It seems to me it’s the little things that can help us all weather the storm.
Tell me, am I wrong?
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