By Bruce Stambaugh
Every now and then, my friend, Alice, likes to remind me to hold on tight to the little things in life. She sure does.
Alice, who is in her 90s, delights in periodically showing me a photograph that my wife and I gave her several years ago. The picture is simple enough. But it means the world to my friend.
It’s a shot of our oldest grandson, Evan, when he was a toddler. He’s 10 now. In the photograph, Evan is holding his baby brother, who was just a couple of months old. Alice always points to that photo, and giggles. She remembers an innocent moment, one that most of us would likely overlook. What happened was pure magic for Alice.
When Evan was a baby, he spontaneously grabbed Alice’s finger and held on tight. A decade later, Alice still won’t let go of that golden moment. She laughs about it every time she shows me the photo, and points to Evan and says, “That’s the little guy that hung on to my finger.”
Alice, who never had any children or grandchildren of her own, replays little Evan wrapping his warm, pink hand around her index finger, and hanging on for dear life. She felt loved.
It was just a brief moment in time. But it also was a gift that personally and literally touched Alice so deeply that she keeps the photo in a special scrapbook.
Isn’t that the way life should be? To remember some insignificant, spontaneous time or instantaneous incident that meant the world to you.
William Wordsworth’s classic poem, “The World is too much With Us,” perfectly sums up the current chaos of today’s world. Because of technology, we are inundated with tragic, shattering news 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Such negative deluges swamp us, dulling our sensitivity to everyday goodness.
Alice’s persistent reference to our young grandson’s firm grip all those years ago is a reminder to me, to us all really, to cherish the little things in life. We need to enjoy each moment.
A breath-taking sunset, a songbird’s call, the smile of a stranger, a fragrant flower, an inspiring poem, a few moments of absolute silence, finding a Monarch caterpillar on a milkweed leaf, the sound of our own rhythmical breathing are all examples equivalent to Alice’s joy.
There are many others to be sure. A boldly colored American Goldfinch enjoying the seeds of blue salvia; a coyote howling from a distant hill at dusk; a large mouth bass breaking the surface as you reel it in; the warm handshake of a friend; an unexpected note of appreciation from a stranger, a hummingbird working holly hock blooms all offer relief from the stresses of life’s routines.
The list is endless really. The only cost to enjoy these life pleasures is to simply notice them, no assembly required.
Too often I’m caught up in merely trying to survive. In so doing, I forget to live. Sound familiar?
When I recognize those times, I try to step back, take a deep breath, note my surroundings, and focus my all on that very moment that brings light into my life.
I’m glad Alice keeps reminding me about Evan’s firm clasp. Maybe that’s the real point. An unknowing innocent child brought a lifetime of love to a woman ready and willing to embrace and be embraced by a seemingly insignificant action.
Like a child’s tender grasp, hold tight to the little things in life. Those memories are the one’s that really count. Just ask Alice.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2014