My friend Amy posted something on her blog recently about sustainability and “the little things.” I’ve been thinking about that lately too, and so I thought I’d do a little “thinking out loud” here. On her site http://hummingearthcoach.com/thoughts Amy reminds us that:
“For every great movement that triumphed, every revolution, every enduring relationship between two or more people, there are small things. As a culture, and especially in our media, we tend to emphasize the big gesture, the broad act, the symbolic moment. But really, its the little things that keep us together and moving forward or pull us down.”
She goes on to write about a group she has recently gotten involved in and the “little things” that folks do that show their desire to sustain the group; smiling at each other genuinely, thanking each other for voicing opinions, follow-up emails showing appreciation to those who attended a meeting etc. etc.
As I read this I found myself thinking about a recent MPT meeting. The core community (our version of a board of directors – but (little things) the name says more of what we want to be – a community) meets every other month for an overnight. It’s a time commitment and we work hard. We get a lot done. We have to. We also have fun.
At this recent meeting, due to some confusion about where the meeting was being held a few folks arrived quite late. While we waited we had a glass of wine, then another…we had a nice meal together and laughed. When our friends arrived we quickly got them settled in with warm soup, good wine, salad and tasty bread. We stayed at the table while they has some dinner and laughed some more. And then laughed some more.
We start every meeting with a check in, and so we moved to that and took a long time so that everyone could have a real and honest check-in. In the AM my stomach hurt from all the laughing I had done the night before. We did get a little “work” done the night before – but just a little – and we had a very full agenda ahead of us. Still, sustained by the connections of those I share this work with and our laughter the night before I felt ready to jump in.
I found myself wondering how our newest office team member was feeling about our meeting. This was her first core meeting and I wondered if she felt at all frustrated by the work that didn’t get done on Friday, or if she too, saw the importance of this time to connect. It’s a little thing. It’s a big thing.
This AM I came to my favorite coffee shop. I come every Friday AM. I meet a friend and we talk about everything and nothing. It is an important time – a ritual that I look forward to and miss when things get in the way. This AM – like many when I come here – I walked in and Peter (the owner) had my coffee waiting for me on the counter. He saw me drive up and recognized the car. He knows what I drink. I feel welcomed.
Little things that are really big things.I work part time at a pediatric office as a receptionist. It’s the paid job that allows me to do my real work full time – justice and peace work. I realize it makes a difference to parents when they call in and I remember their children’s names. I know that while I cannot give medical advice, I can often give an empathetic ear and acknowledge that it must be stressful, or exhausting or that it just plan sucks that their child is ill when I take the message for the nurse to call back. It takes so little time on my part. It’s such a little thing.
Of course, this post is hardly a grand revelation. No surprising insights here – just a grasp of the obvious. And yet, an obvious that I know I need to be reminded of.