One Small Thing
There’s always value to be found, even when nothing happens.
At one point or another, we are asked “what’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you?” You might answer things like the day you passed your driver’s test, or that time you won tickets to a sold out concert. But what about that time you looked at your best friend and both of you knew exactly what the other was thinking without verbally expressing it? Or that night you spent crying but your mother came home with ice cream to help you feel better? We overlook these moments, but at the time they were probably the best part of your day.
Some days I am incredibly unproductive. I watch the clock tick and sulk in my bedroom, blaming myself for wasting the last twelve hours doing nothing. I have no energy and all I want is to dig a hole to crawl into. I’m feeling bad for no real reason and can’t snap out of it. But then, I get a text from my best friend, and it turns out they’re in the same position as I am. Suddenly I feel less alone in the world. My friend reaching out to me and acknowledging my existence is enough to brighten my day (though it’s almost bedtime), and I find myself to be extremely grateful in that moment. As a result, I look back on that day in a positive light. By choosing to embrace the one small thing that happened, I’ve forgotten about the things that got me stuck in a rut.
My sentiments here are beautifully echoed in a comfort show I’ve always turned to - Gilmore Girls. It’s a television series about a mother and her daughter, who live in a small Connecticut town called Stars Hollow. Having had her as a young teen, Lorelai Gilmore and her daughter Rory have a close relationship and are very much like best friends. As they go through life’s adventures, it becomes clear (underneath all the witty, pop-culture filled dialogue, which the show is famous for) that they are full of love and care for others around them. Also, their bond is certainly unbreakable.
Something I’ve always loved is the show’s unique ability to put emphasis on the ‘things that aren’t said’. In most episodes, nothing major happens. There are no explosions or dramatic reveals. There are references to major life events, but we are rarely shown them. Instead, we see intimate scenes between certain characters, from small fights to extended discussions over trivial things that turn out to be more symbolic than you realise. There are also subtle gestures that bring so much depth to the characters. You are always assured of the outcome (be it positive or negative), without the need to see it. You are provided with the key ingredient: the journey. Sometimes an exchange of looks is all I need before finding myself on the verge of tears. Every small moment holds great significance. (My earlier reference to ice cream may have been a scene from an episode of Gilmore Girls.)
That said, Gilmore Girls focuses on the importance of human connection and not harbouring all your pain by yourself. That in good times and bad, there’s always value in having a shoulder to cry on. Even when you don’t reach your destination, you should pat yourself on the back because of the progress you’ve made, no matter how small or insignificant. In every day, there is value in choosing to focus on the one small thing that makes everything worth it. Alternatively, if there’s nothing you can find, there is always one small thing you could do to make it meaningful.
So, the next time you find yourself on the floor in your PJs feeling sorry for yourself, know that it’s not too late. Check in with a friend. Make yourself coffee. See the beauty just outside your window. Reflect on what you’re grateful for. There’s always one small thing you can do to make sure your day isn’t a wasted one, and who knows, perhaps that one small thing has already happened, so go ahead and embrace it.