Saved by the little things

Four years ago, I wrote an article about The Catcher in the Rye’s Holden Caulfield as a spiritual guide.  I wrote about how this angry, angsty, isolated teenager  seems to have uncovered one of the secrets of life: noticing and loving the little things.

It’s a lesson I write about a lot.  Maybe that’s because it’s a lesson that is all too easy to forget.

Witness last weekend.  It was like two weekends’ worth of events crammed into one, the kind of weekend where you are running from one event to another. They were good things — a friend’s wedding, a carnival, soccer for the boys, a tea fundraiser with my mom and aunt — but it was a weekend with no downtime, with the net result that Sunday evening arrived and I was an exhausted mom with a stack of grading that had gone untouched all weekend.

But even in my most stressed-out moments, there were little glimpses of grace and beauty.

At Peet’s yesterday evening, waiting for my drink and girding my loins to go sit down  and grade, I saw two diminutive paper cranes poised on the top of the cash register.  One was made of  black paper, one of purple and green.   I don’t know who made them, or put them there, but they made me suddenly and unaccountably happy.

Or this: driving along the freeway with my kids, racing with the clock and casting  frequent apprehensive glances into the rearview mirror at my oldest son who was claiming to feel carsick, I couldn’t help but notice the green hills slowly turning gold just outside my windows. It was arresting and beautiful, like witnessing spring shift into summer right before my eyes.

Or this: looking around my cluttered desk, which desperately needs purging, I came across this little art project from Luke’s preschool.  A few swirls of fingerpaint, a few little lines drawn by a small eager hand, and you have happiness on paper.

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It’s all these little things that save me, sometimes.  They save me from that suburban-working-mom panic of having too much on my plate, just as surely as they saved Holden  Caulfield from teenage existential despair.  They’re the little moments of grace, and they really aren’t little at all.

What has been a moment of grace for you today?

2 responses to “Saved by the little things

  1. Amen. One of my favorite items on my den walls is a little framed piece of calligraphy I purchased many years ago in Claremont. It reads: “THINK BIG THOUGHTS, BUT RELISH SMALL PLEASURES.” I like that a lot.

  2. Great saying. I think maybe the two feed each other — maybe thinking big thoughts makes even the small pleasures more enjoyable, and vice-versa.