My dear noble friend Teri gave a talk to an Interfaith Thanksgiving gathering. Teri’s extraordinary courage and grace proceeded her to the podium and we all knew it. She could have just stood silently and we’d have been almost equally as moved because we all witnessed what true love and compassionate action looks like over these last few years as she shepherded her best friend and husband to the other side.
Words can’t describe the fierce grace she carries.
Teri began her talk with a visual consisting of left over halloween candy. She had a pile of the little candy bars on one side and a single, larger candy bar on the other. While handing out candy for halloween she had observed over the last few years a profound understanding of how we navigate our world and how expressions of gratitude can blind us.
One year as kids came running to the door she would reach in her bag and give them a handful of the small bars.. she figured she probably averaged 4 of the small bars for each kid. Some thanked her, some didn’t, but the general response lacked excitement because they were so accustomed to the little bars. The following year she decided to buy a bunch of the large full-sized bars and give one to each kid.
She was overrun with kids.
She became an instant neighborhood sensation and the most popular house on the block.
Kids were blown away, over run with excitement and gratitude.
The single full sized bar was HALF the amount she had given the previous year when you add up the little ones they doubled the amount of the full-sized bar. Like so many of us, so many times, those kids celebrated in the illusion of more, believing the one big thing they had been waiting for was “IT” and not realizing that all the little things they collected along the way added up to far more.
I’ve missed IT so many times and the only thing I’ve found to help is to interrupt the cycle. To force myself to notice the small pieces. To almost avoid the larger ones for fear of their blinding power. I’ve come to recognize when I feel extreme excitement, I must be missing something. The cost isn’t worth it– in the anticipation or celebration of the big milestone, I am so certain to miss many beautiful miles.
What are my smaller candy bars?
A day with no plans. Sitting by the fire. 4 good books at once. Extra foam on my coffee, with just the right weight to it. Someone calling me a second time even when I said didn’t wan to talk but they could hear loneliness. Living along. My dogs softness. My perfect-fitting old birkenstocks. My Temperpedic mattress. The shave club people who send new ones each month for $7 bucks. Miles on my amex that allow me to travel almost anywhere, anytime. A heavy pen. My early morning routine of 6am coffee shop writing uninterrupted for weeks on end. Really load music. Ambient music. My super fast car on a long windy road. A text from my kid. My dogs unwavering desire to be with me. A shovel, black dirt and wheel barrel and no plans for an entire day. Enough money. Noble friends. A spiritual refuge. My community.
I’d gladly trade the big moments in a second for these smaller, consistent ones that make me feel nurtured and complete.