Thankful -- for the Little Things

By Bill Long on December 17, 2018

Thanksgiving season provides an occasion for us to celebrate the people and circumstances that make us grateful for our lives. These things are what I would call the “big things” in life, the things or people that never leave our mind and heart as we live our days. But lately I have been thinking of the way that several little things have transformed my life this year. They are so small as to seem almost insignificant. But here are three.  

Several months ago, I began to develop some pains in my legs and back that hampered my life. The pains didn’t go away, either with gym workouts, walking or my own stretching. A friend suggested I attend a yoga class she also attended. I inwardly rolled my eyes, thinking of pretzel-bodied and mantrachanting twenty-somethings who would shame me by their mere presence. But I went. Surprisingly, it was led by a fifty year-old woman who knew how older bodies worked (or didn’t). I can say this Thanksgiving that I am really grateful for yoga.  

Then, a friend of mine, a retired judge, went to Europe with his wife. He prepares for a trip like he prepared for a judicial case. Thorough. They were visiting Portugal and he mentioned I might want to read Pascal Mercier’s Night Train to Lisbon to understand that beautiful but troubled land.  The book was a godsend, opening me to elegant language and the sad but poignant history of a usually-ignored country.
Finally, I went on a retreat. While picking up registration materials, I noticed they gave me a spiral notepad and a pen. Good. Take notes. I took some notes, but then I realized I could take notes on anything. Over the course of the weekend, I outlined my next two books. My frantic scribbles were no doubt seen as great interest in the proceedings.  Nope—personal planning!  

Three small gifts:  yoga, a book, a notebook. All have opened new vistas. I was glad I could see the little things.