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The Little Things

“Don’t sweat the little things, and remember that everything is a little thing.”

This advice was doled out by a girlfriend’s mother a long while back, when I was going through a relatively rocky stretch. She wasn’t trying to pass it off as original; she’d heard someone say it on a talk show. The first part is as old as the hills, and the second just a clever addendum that doesn’t really pass close inspection. It’s the type of thing Dr. Phil puts in hardcover every three months to add a new wing to his joint in Palm Beach. On a certain level everything is a little thing. But sometimes the little things are the big things.

I got kicked off the roof of my building twice this weekend by a woman who’d installed a motion detector on her private deck just below. It had never happened before – there’s an official “curfew” posted in the lobby, but no one had ever enforced it, and it was only twenty minutes past this time. What was more distressing, though, was her manner. She was abrupt, authoritative, and unresponsive to my attempts to apologize and better understand why the situation had changed. She even waited behind until I’d left, like a warden at lockdown. I considered confronting her more forcefully, but something in her way made me think that this wasn’t a good idea.

On the surface, this incident falls squarely between the boundaries of the little things. You take people as they come, and let water roll off your back. I’ve been chastised for not letting things go in the past, but I’ve dismissed much larger deals with apt aplomb. Maybe it’s because I’ve really enjoyed that roof. I’ve been thinking of looking for a new place lately – given the shifting economy, I’m probably paying too much rent. But the view from up there is spectacular, and you can see most of Brooklyn, the Statue of Liberty, and all the way to midtown Manhattan. I’ve enjoyed going up there later in the evening, just for a quiet breath of fresh air. All the shit that doesn’t fit together during the day can seem irrelevant in those few minutes, and the world spread out in almost manageable order. Just a little thing.

My buddy Scott who was out here last weekend once noted that “you wouldn’t want to know the real number of people who are just hanging to a thread out there.” The comment stuck with me for some time, and I’d like to think that it caused me to walk a little more gently since. Sometimes it feels like you can just see it in someone’s eyes; like they might fall apart or explode if you make one wrong step in either direction. I don’t figure I’ve been there myself too often, and for this I’m thankful. I’m also thankful for all the great views I’ve had in my life – despite the many blessings I’ve taken for granted, this hasn’t been one.

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One Comment

  1. dick wrote:

    Good piece…She must have really ticked you off….

    I think the last sentence would have read better if you had said “Despite the many blessings I’ve taken for granted this VIEW hasn’t been one”


    Friday, September 18, 2009 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

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