Monday, September 25, 2006
the big and the small
Today I ran into an old friend at the coffee shop. She is in medical school and trying to figure out what to do with her practice and her life. We talked about what is important to us, and what we hope to achieve in our lives.
Isn't it funny how school and work and just life can sometimes get in the way of understanding what's really important? All the hustle and bustle, the incredible strain of keeping all the details organized, make the smallest things loom huge in their perceived importance, while the real goals practically disappear on the horizon. It is a rotten trick of perception.
I tend to be a pretty balanced person. Generally speaking, while I have a lot of stuff going on, I still leave the office at a respectable time most days, limit how much I work on the evenings and weekends, and make time to care for myself and relax with loved ones.
But I don't think that I make enough time just for reflection. Where have I been? Where am I going? What does it mean? How often do I actually relax and separate long enough from all the activity, so that the trick of perception dwindles and things appear as they really are?
We are supposed to learn from our mistakes. I think I spend more time worrying about not making the next one.
Another friend of mine is about to go on a long trip. My hope for her is that while she is traveling in all these places she's never been (and may never go again), she gains the perspective she has been craving on her own life. I hope that all the little obstacles and worries appear scattered like leaves on the ground, and she can see what is really important, her values and her hopes for herself, infinitely larger in the landscape in comparison.
Is there a way to gain this perspective all the time? And can you let go of worrying about little things, relatively meaningless things, without losing your attention to small things?
I think small things are different from little things. Little things are worries, anxieties, hang-ups, compulsions, wants and other things that make you unhappy, dissatisfied, and make you feel like less of a person than you want to be. Small things, on the other hand, are meaningful, just small. Beautiful things are often very small, but they can bring deep joy.
I aspire very much to letting go, completely and forever, of all the little things. I am not ready yet, but I hope to be soon. I am a little afraid of losing the small things in the bargain, though.