My past includes various answers to the question, “So…what do you do?” Some answers were short and precise: “I’m a high school English teacher.” Some needed more words: “I’m a communications director.” What? “Well, I blah, blah, blah…explain, explain…yawn…are you still listening?”
But what I do isn’t who I am. It’s an important part of my mosaic, but you don’t know me just because you know that answer. That’s the big picture.
It’s knowing the little things that matter.
My big picture includes being a mom, and as a mom, I know many little things about my family. It comes with the territory. When he smells what I’m cooking for dinner, he will be one happy boy. These are his favorite pair of socks. He likes cheese crackers, but not this particular brand. I know his tickle spots. With that look on his face, I know he needs a hug. He now “hates” this song because I sing it loudly every time it comes on. (But I know that he doesn’t really hate it at all.)
These examples are pretty general because many of the little things—by their very nature—are pretty personal and best left that way. But…
…are you riding the train that’s pulling out of my station?
Knowing the little things means that someone cares. That someone’s taken the time to see you. To consider you.
It’s only when you’re a certain level of close that these little things offer themselves up for the learning. But just knowing them isn’t the whole deal. It’s knowing you know, and knowing that I know you know that really brings it home. Wait…what?
So…let me give you an example to better illustrate the above rambling. I was in a very crowded elevator with my family. Each floor we stopped on more people crammed on, and we ended up smooshed against different walls. It was sardine-ish. When we were finally set free, I looked at my husband as I sucked in the pure, sweet oxygen that was now available. He put his arm around me and said, “I was feeling for you. That was hard for me…so I knew you must have really been struggling.”
Got it now? Oh…so it makes better sense when you know I’m claustrophobic. See, it’s not just knowing that I’m claustrophobic but bothering to empathize. In that moment, I knew he understood me. It mattered. I mattered. And as insignificant an example as that may be, I remember it because—if you haven’t caught on at this point—little things like that matter to me.
And, truthfully, I could use more of that. I think we all could. Doesn’t it feel good to have someone bring you a cup of coffee just the way you like it? Or remember to tell you something that they know you’ll get a kick out of because it’s the kind of thing you find funny? Or know the kind of shoulder squeeze that really helps you after a long day?
My son went to a movie recently and later said to me, “Mom, I sat next to a cruncher! Ugh!” and in that one sentence, he didn’t just tell me that he sat next to a cruncher—he knows that when I go to movies, I’m like a magnet to people who have no idea how loud they are. No matter where I sit, no matter how empty the theater, inevitably there will be someone who comes with several wrapped candies or a paper bag of popcorn (just go for the tub, why dontcha?! It’s the American way!) or an Icee that is being played like a bassoon. I’m just gifted. And my son has been with me for many a movie where we’ve experienced this phenomenon together. So when he tells me about the cruncher, it is a connection beyond the obvious. He knows that I know he knows what I know. See?
Maybe you’ve never consciously thought about someone knowing your little things until now, but I think it’s worth pausing to recognize and appreciate. To value it for what it truly is: someone who cares enough about you to look deeper into your big picture and learn the details that make you…you.
So whether it’s you knowing someone’s little things or their knowing yours…remember that those little suckers carry a lot more weight than you might think they do. In fact, they can make all the difference.
ALL PHOTOS ARE MY OWN OR USED WITH PERMISSION.
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