It’s the little things that can sink me, but it’s the little things that save me, too.

Little, fleeting things, details and outcomes and misunderstandings can make me feel so small, almost as much as the big things do.

When I look at what I’ve torn or chipped, stained, spilled, or burned underneath, it’s easy to see the worst in me. The clumsy side of me that crashes through life, breaking everything I touch. And this broken story rains down, down, down over me, seeping into my bones and altering the very architecture of the truth, as best as I can say what true is.

Or maybe it’s that the real me comes undone, almost willingly, falling through the souls of my feet and rolling away.

Either way, little things can make me feel I’ve lost myself.

It can be such little things that leave the whole world looking as though it’s gone to pieces. And me also, sweeping up my shattered bits from under the cupboards.

And it’s the little things that save me still.  

I’ve seen myself through to the other side enough to know by now that it will pass.

But in the before, I fear that maybe this is the last feeling I’ll feel. It’s getting faster to remember the befores that came before this one. One second less, perhaps, and one second longer to catch up with what I learned the last time.

That I don’t struggle because of who I am but because I’m here, living.

That the struggle is a teacher, not a demerit.

That awe’s restored me countless times in the past. Love’s carried me home.

That it’s never about the little thing, anyway.

In the before, I look for something big to make me whole again. Redemption is always out there, in the hands of all the king’s horses and men, in perfection, control, or certainty. Before the little things have saved me, I’m sure it would take a miracle to put me back together. 

The real miracle is that I don’t need to keep my hands so full to feel whole, to carry so many expectations and escape plans. Because, more often than not, it’s the little things that do it.

As for those things I thought mattered so much in the before, who said what to whom and when, how today was supposed to go, and what happened instead? I see how limiting it is to focus on what can only be fought over or measured against.

The boxes of rightness and wrongness, worthy or not suddenly look so small, and the little things that save me, so profound. Like the tangerine who has no competition with the blossom over who is sweeter.

The little things aren’t hard to find. In just two minutes of rest, offering no more than my breath and the willingness to try and be present, I’m pulled back to the pulse of life. The steady ticking of the clock, the sound of children playing down the street, palm trees rustling, a purring cat, an old familiar song playing from the inside of me show me that stillness isn’t still. Silence isn’t silent.

And if that is so, maybe brokenness isn’t really broken.

The simple exchange of inhale for exhale unites the woundedness in me with the infinite in me. And I remember that air is medicine. Light is medicine. Sleep is medicine. The dawn is medicine. The shadows reaching across my kitchen floor are medicine. The vine creeping over the fence is medicine. The sound of typing keys, the smell of potatoes roasting, swimming pools, distant thunder, a jet overhead, pen on paper are all medicine.

Once restored, I see that the little things that knock me down and the ones that pick me up are all my teachers.

There are a thousand ways to fall apart, but there are a thousand more to come together again. @ralph_leslie (Click to Tweet!)

When the little things sink you, let a moment of stillness show you that little things can save you, too. Let air be the miracle you seek. Sunlight, your friend. Music, the lifeline drawing you back to yourself. Color, the cast on what feels broken. Time, the remedy.

Smile like the valley, wide and deep. Laugh like the wind ambling through the prairie grass. Love what you love, small as it may be, and shine that love on the world.

Leslie Ralph is a psychologist, writer, and artist who hopes to leave the world a little brighter than she found it.  Her people are creative, sensitive spirits who crave love and peace, inside and out. Leslie is the author of There, I Might Find Peace: Poetry and Prose, Mantras and Meditations for Peace, Love, and Strength. Download her free gift, a ritual for receiving, a daily ritual for bringing more love and light, clarity and confidence, meaning and connection to your life. You can follow Leslie on Facebook or Instagram.

Image Courtesy of Thanh Tam