As a young person looking to “make it” in a world where it seems impossible to hit it big, I have been meditating on the importance of the little things–indulging in some ice cream, or getting my first article published. I very much doubt my voice will ever raise mountains or change the face of society, but hopefully I can give my small but dedicated clan of readers a peek at the beauty that infuses their own lives, and hopefully get a laugh or two as well.
I am enamored with the mundane. So, it is for the little things in life that I write. As a society, we are often distracted by the screams of dramatic loss and the riotous laughter of hilarity. My purpose as a writer is to place a spotlight on the small and to show my readers the beauty of the common life.
I remember when I was in grade school, the bane of my existence was the dreaded personal narrative. Every year, we had to produce an interesting and profound event from our lives and somehow fit six weddings and three funerals into a two-page piece and still have someone win the lottery. I am metaphorically allergic to excessive drama and my life simply did not contain this type of plot (unfortunately, it now resembles a comedy of errors, but that is a topic for a different blog post). Out of necessity, I learned to romanticize the average life, celebrate baby steps, and see the courage of the householder.
Entertainment serves as an escape from life. But it seems a greater gift to use entertainment to show others the wonder of their own life. Through writing, I have increased my awareness of the beauty in the ordinary. Learning to appreciate the little things is a habit that takes time to build. It is impossible to maintain a consistent level of happiness when we live between emotional highs. Studies have shown that the happiest people are those who utilize the simple pleasures in life like family, pets, or breaking the routine. Writing taught me how to be one of those people.
Earnest Hemmingway was challenged to write a six-word story; he succeeded in writing a profoundly tragic tale. “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” The beauty of this story is that it does not portray grief stricken parents collapsing in a hospital, or a lost mother weeping over an unnamed grave. It shows a garage sale–like one your neighbor hosted yesterday. When I read this story, I was most touched by the knowledge that this could be the story of anyone.
Hemmingway’s story transcended its page and sparked wonder in my life. I want to give the same gift to my readers. I have what my mentor calls a “do-gooder need”, in that my actions only take on meaning when they contribute to those involved. It wasn’t until I learned that my writing has a purpose – re-interesting readers in their lives -that I discovered my passion for writing. If I inspire nothing more through this post, I ask that you look for the wonder in your life. Take a new route home, give a gift to your spouse, or pet your pet, because that is what life is all about.