My wife Evelyn has physical therapy sessions three days a week at a facility about 15 minutes from where we live. The sessions are just shy of an hour, so it doesn’t make sense for me to drive home after dropping her off only to turn around a half-hour later to go back for her. Since I’m not allowed inside (COVID-19 restrictions, you know) I take something with me to occupy myself while I’m waiting in the parking lot.
For her session on Monday I took paper, a lap table, a ruler, and (I thought) a pencil so I could get started with my cartooning for the next day. After seeing her to the door I parked where I could see her when she came out, took out the bag with my “tools” in it, and prepared to sketch.
Imagine my dismay when I got the lap table in position, and the paper and ruler ready only to discover that there was no pencil in the bag! I had all those other necessary items but somehow had neglected to put a pencil in the bag.
It occurred to me how little things can sometimes have a big impact. I had everything else that I needed to start drawing, but for lack of a pencil, the entire project came to a screeching halt. (And, yes, I did think of that ancient adage: “For lack of a nail, the shoe was lost. For lack of a shoe, the horse was lost. For lack of a horse, the rider was lost. For lack of a rider, the message was lost. For lack of a message, the war was lost.” Or something like that.)
So I decided to read the magazine I had taken along, just in case I finished my sketching before Evelyn was ready to go home.
In the course of reading the magazine, I happened to reach up to scratch my ear. I heard a noise like something falling on the floor of the car. When I looked – yup – it was the pencil I was sure I had packed. I had just packed it behind my ear instead of in the bag with the other items! (No, let’s not talk about how one’s memory fades as one grows older.)
Once I had a pencil, I could put the magazine aside and finish my pencil drawings.
Amazing, isn’t it, how little things can make a huge difference? Perhaps this same principle applies to things like the words we speak or the smiles we share or even the amount we put in the church offering envelope. Just a word or two spoken at the right moment in the right manner; or a quick, sincere smile given to a stranger; or even a few dollars in the offering envelope makes a world of difference in the large picture.
I’m going to try to remember to be aware of the little things. They really do mean a lot.