Monday, September 20, 2010

The little things in life are the big things

I spent Sunday at the Life Is Good Festival, where my youngest kids rocked out to their favorite band (They Might Be Giants) and got so caught up in dancing to Galactic that they nearly forgot about Laurie Berkner over on the kids stage. Almost.

Throughout the area, Life Is Good had posted big signs with upbeat sentiments like “Do What You Like. Like What You Do” (their motto). But the one that really struck me was over in the kids’ area, a backdrop to the games and activities there, right next to the huge tent where Laurie Berkner was performing. It said “The little things in life are the big things.”

I know it was meant to refer to kids — the two-day event was to raise money for Life Is Good’s Kids Foundation, which is dedicated to helping kids overcome adversity. But the phrase applies to so much of my life right now, it felt like a message from the universe, somehow.

People tell you to let the little things go, to focus on the big picture. I’ve spent most of my life figuring out goals and crossing items off to-do lists and telling myself to keep the big picture in mind. But the big picture is made up of a series of smaller snapshots, isn’t it? And those snapshots are taken over time.

My kids — most kids, really — live life in those snapshots. A famous entertainer was singing and dancing a few hundred feet away, and my kids, along with about 30 others, were wrapped up in the moment, playing on a giant parachute that parents and volunteers were heaving up and down. They weren’t thinking about what they’d tell their friends later, or what work they’d have to do once they got home, or the crappy week that had just ended, as I was. They were just enjoying what they had, the little things, right that minute.

As we were leaving that night, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue were wrapping up their set. Trombone Shorty is the kind of musician who gives you chills, his talent is so absolute. As an encore, they walked off the stage and into the crowd, horns blaring “When the Saints Come Marching In” and “Down by the Riverside.” The audience, which had started to leave, surged toward the stage, parents lifting kids onto their shoulders as the band wove in and around the dancing and singing crowd.
For a moment, there was nothing but the moment. A little thing that became the biggest thing of all.

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