Sunday, 28 July 2013

Joy in the little things

When we lived in Edmonton, my favourite place to buy a wedding gift was Cher Sliger’s pottery stand at the Strathcona Market. Her pottery decorated with ladybugs proclaims “Joy in the little things.” While Cher was probably encouraging us to appreciate bugs and slugs, I took it a step further: joy in the little deeds and acts that brighten up life

Okay, I know that “joy in the little things” is pretty simplistic. It doesn’t solve the big problems that surface eventually in any relationship, whether it’s marriage, friendship, business or family: problems like really listening to each other, respecting boundaries, negotiating power struggles, and deciding whose turn it is to do the dishes.

Still, would it hurt to take joy in the little things, even then?

The quilt I chose to illustrate this blog is one I made about seven years ago, when I was just spreading my quilting wings and trying new things. As I pinned the wonky, brightly-coloured blocks to my design wall, I sure had my doubts. “Is this cool, or is it truly ugly?” I asked myself. Then the resident sweetie Al (and, I must be honest, occasionally, aka  resident grump) walked in. “Hey!” he said. “That’s cool. I like that!”

It was just a little gesture, but it helped. “Hey!” I said. “Thank you. It’s yours!” (I don’t know if he was expecting that, but it’s still hanging in his office. A little thing...but still). I kept working at it, and in the green border outlining the blocks, I quilted these simple words:  “Joy in the little things: bugs, bees, butterflies, birds, bubbles, beauty.” There was lots of room for more, and I was on a roll, so I added more values I believed in, values such as “Give thanks every day. Hold hands. Hug and kiss and laugh lots. Share with a smile.” Little things.

There are two ways of looking at the issue of little things. Benjamin Disraeli said, “Little things affect little minds.” In other words, only little-minded people occupy themselves with little things.  But philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal said, “Little things console us, because little things afflict us.”  Author, businessman and politician Bruce Barton writes, “Sometimes when I think of what tremendous consequences come from little things, I am tempted to think there are no little things.” My money is on Pascal and Barton.

I’m thinking about the importance of little things because the resident sweetie and I celebrated another anniversary this past week. Yes, we had to negotiate power struggles, boundaries, dishes...the whole kaboodle. Still are negotiating, as a matter of fact, after 42 years together. But the little things do a lot to help us hang on to what we’ve got. Taking joy in the little things is not the whole answer to the riddle of life and relationships, but it’s not a bad place to start.

When he shares the first few strawberries from the garden with me, instead of eating them himself, when he hauls the trailer out to a lovely campsite and then leaves me and goes home again because he knows I need a retreat by myself, when he (almost) always leaves the toilet seat down, when he makes me laugh unexpectedly, I figure I won the lottery when it comes to mates.

Thanks, sweetie.

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