The photo above is a post it note on my desk. On the note is a tiny little shard of bamboo. While doing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen the other day, I was washing our bamboo cutting board. As I moved it from one place to another I got that remarkably small sliver of wood in the meaty part of my palm and, holy cow, it hurt! At first I couldn’t see it at all. When running my finger gently over the area where it hurt I could feel a prickle of something, but it was invisible to my eye and, therefor, impossible to remove. The pain subsided and I decided not to worry about it.
When I woke up the next morning and got dressed, the splinter kept getting caught on my various articles of clothes. Again with the pain! How could something so small hurt like this? At least now I could see it, at least a little bit. I had no access to tweezers because I was in front of the computer doing my online teaching job but I had to get this thing out. I couldn’t pinch it between my nails, so I began to get creative. I tried tape, putty, glue, clippers, a needle… It was certainly moving but it took almost an hour before I could finally get it out. When I pulled it I expected it to be somehow larger than I knew it to be. It was still incomprehensible to me that something so small could cause me this much discomfort.
That’s when I started thinking about small things. I asked myself what significant things have happened in my life recently, and what their basic genesis was. I tried to look to see if there was a small thing at the root of these major life events. I started to realize how small the origin of each thing could be. What are the actual “things” that precipitate my life events? Cancer cells. A single ovum. A seed of hope. A split second decision.
When all is said and done, the big things are little things compounded. There are only small things, and they can have a huge impact.