Monday, September 04, 2006

Thinking about the Little Things

Do you ever think about what you do? No, I mean the little things. See, I’m pet-sitting for some friends right now, and I wonder how many things the woman usually does for her dog that she doesn’t even think about. They’re acts of common sense, or affection, or personal preference. She may like the food bowl out from the wall a little. Or she’ll randomly stroke her dog. Maybe her cat will get a little verbal comfort during the day. There are plants in her house, too. Do they have names? She probably knows how much each one grows, the best place to water it, and the best time of day to do so. What things in her house are special, just the way they are? Is there a reason for the way she makes her bed?

When she instructed me in caring for her house, she didn’t have time to go over things like that. I was told where the food was, and how often to feed the animals, how often to leave them out. Not only did she not have time; she probably never thinks about the things that are just part of her life.

So how many little things with which you busy yourself do you ignore? I’m not talking quirky things. Just average things. How do you brush your teeth? Does your right foot hit the floor in the morning before your left foot does? Do you turn your dog’s food bowl when it’s half eaten so she can get to the food better?

Last night I had a pen in my hand, so I was writing. Yes, that is exactly what I mean. At first there was something specific I was jotting down, but later I was just writing because the pen and journal were there. I never do that. I know; I have really long blog posts, long letters, long emails, long stories. But I never just write about the simple world around me. Because I never notice.

Last night I noticed. And without being brilliantly descriptive in my metaphors or word choice, I was communicating on paper (to myself, of course) like I rarely do. It was me, pointing out the little things I noticed, the small things that were part of my world and would never have received conscious notice without the pen.

It’s interesting to discover who you are in the small things. Even more interesting is to notice other people in the small things. Only beware! This exercise is not for the purpose of annoying you and complaining against them. How does your mom dry dishes? List the three things your best friend does when they first get in the car. Think. Look. Notice.

Finally, respond. This morning I was confronted with the truth that I lean more toward gaining knowledge than practicing application. Way more. It’s nice to know that there are people who have a pattern of little things that make up their day. But it doesn’t mean anything unless it changes you.

I don’t know why humans give the cold shoulder to change so often. I do. Change is uncomfortable. But does life have meaning without it? Is life being lived if you’re not going anywhere, at least growing? I mean, a plant doesn’t usually go anywhere, but it grows. Is that it’s purpose? Poor plants; they don’t have a conscious purpose. But we do.

Theologians debate about this. The old confessions of faith state that our purpose is to glorify God. Modern church movements at least show that they believe evangelism is the real priority of life. Which is it? Is it something else? What do you think? Does the Bible have anything to say?

Been great talking to you, observing. My thoughts aren’t often about the concrete, but just to give you a sample: the dog likes to make noise. Her tail hits her cushion. The collar around her neck jingles with the tags attached. In fact everything in this house makes noise: the ice maker, the refrigerator, the swamp cooler, cat, dog, the cat’s automatic litter box. Yes, every once in a while that fantastic invention screeches its way to clean. And it’s nice, because then when you go to sleep in a mostly quiet house and you hear a noise, you don’t worry; it’s just the dog.

To God be all glory.


Anonymous said...

Last paragraph: tale should be tail. Did Lisa choose this word to see if anyone really reads her blog? HMMMMM....

Lisa of Longbourn said...

Thanks for the hint. Note the edit. No, didn't do that on purpose. But when I'm writing later in the evening, homophones happen.
To God be all glory,