Falling In Love With The Small Things

Editor’s Note: the original version of this article was first posted on the C2C in 2010.

A blink. A heartbeat. A sigh.

You do it all without thinking, and yet it keeps you alive. These are small things. Life is just small things. We tend to applaud and admire big sweeping movements, but break a big movement down to its essential pieces, and you realize, it’s all made up of small things. Every day things. Second-by-second things.

I write with a fever, I write when I’m exhausted, I write when the sky falls, I write when the sky’s propped up again. I write without reward, without understanding, without respect, without compensation. A blink. A heartbeat. A sigh. I do it all without thinking, because it’s who I am, and it keeps me alive.

But it’s a small thing. A word is a small thing. But words are the bricks that cement my current sentence. The sentence, a row of stones that might fortify my paragraph. And a paragraph is such a small thing. So is a chapter. But I do it. I write it. That’s what writing is:  a bunch of small things, tiny things, infinitesimal things that you can hardly see–smaller than the eye of a needle. I push the thread of my story through that eye (read: “I”) and then sow together a warm, comfy novel. Little by little, second-by-second, tick-by-tock. Slow. Patient. Focused. Alone.

I’m an artist. But an artist is a small thing. I draw, I sing, I dance. I write. No one really cares that I do, because no one cares for small things. But if they put the big things under a magnifying glass… Behold! All they will see are small things that make up the big things.

I’m a human. There’s nothing smaller than that. I can’t transform the whole world at my desk, I can’t feed all the hungry, as much as I would like. I can’t clothed the poor, but at least I can give them words of hope (words that I whisper to encourage me as well.) But a whisper is a small thing. I’m a man of small things, but all the world is made of small things.

The world is a small thing. A tiny dot in a galaxy, in a universe, in a long long stretch of time. But time is a small thing. It’s one small thing. We each hold it in front of us, at this very moment.

Writing isn’t practical. It’s always impractical. But who ever made big waves without doing small, impractical things? Rosa Parks should have stood up, that was practical. But instead she sat, a move that was impractical. But that was a small thing. But that’s what big movements are made out of, small things. That’s how individuals begin to step inside the skin of the person they were meant to be–they do what’s impractical, which breaks them away and above the rest, until they become their own, small thing.

A  blink. A heartbeat. A sigh.

Life is long because of all the small things. The slow pace. The patience, the focus, the drive that goes beyond anything practical or even reasonable. Slow-moving, little-by-little, second-by-second. Letter dropped next to letter, line on top of line, dot-to-dot-to-dot… and so on.

Writers don’t play by the rules, we live outside the box. We’re crazy, because we honor the small things, and shake our heads at what people see as the more important, “big things.” We tug their hand, ask them to sit with the small things. But they never listen, they don’t want to, nobody wants to. Because the small things are, well, they’re too small. That’s the downside of small things: they’re hard for most people to see.

I’m learning as I write my novel that you cannot be a writer unless you love the small things. Unless you cherish them. Unless you can live with them. Unless you can befriend them. Unless you truly, truly, respect and admire how these small little things are, letter by letter, building something big. You come to deeply respect other writers and artists who accomplished big feats, because you realize that it is a lie that any of them did anything big. All they really did was millions of small things. You come to honor any other human being that ever had a big influence on society–the amount of small things that they had to endure to get to the place they ended up… I can’t hardly imagine!

So, in this very second, with me, I invite you to honor the small things in your life. Don’t look at these things as a nuisance. They are not. Small things are what big lives are made out of.

A blink. A heartbeat. A sigh.

much love,

Ollin

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25 comments on “Falling In Love With The Small Things

  1. Christina says:

    Ollin, this is one of my favorite posts:) Thanks so much for writing it, for reposting it, for reminding us.

    I completely agree with you, so much so that I’m printing this out and sticking it on the fridge as a reminder (I’d like to keep it by my computer but it’s so totally cluttered I’d lose it!)

    Have a wonderful weekend, writing and living small things.

  2. Excellent post. I hurt my neck nodding in agreement. ))

  3. Conor Ebbs says:

    Ollin,

    This is a very powerful message.

    One sperm holds the seed of life. Not very profound, I know, but true.😉

    Thank you.

    Conor

    • Ollin says:

      It is very profound AND true. Thanks for bringing to our attention another small thing that breeds, literally, a big life.

      You are very welcome.

  4. Victoria says:

    Ollin: You are a philosophical king. Though only in your twenties you speak like a wise elder! How I wish I knew then what you know now. I’m finding as I age I am looking more and more at “the small things” of life: the sky has never been bluer, the flutter of a bird’s wing never faster, the observing of human interactions never more interesting. Thanks for reminding me that as I sit here doing my small task of writing at my kitchen table it may not be small at all but an intricate part of the web.

    • Ollin says:

      I am only being myself. I’m a writer simply doing my job in my opinion. I observe and then I share what I see. This is just what I see and I am glad it has been helpful to you. Thank you for your very sweet words.

  5. Put all the small things together and it’s sometimes amazing to see the large thing that results🙂

  6. Ollin, This is the first time I’ve seen this post and I love it.I agree,It’s the small, precious moments that count in life and add up over time to the big moments. If only we will stop and notice all these small things along the way~thanks for the reminder to do just that. Another great post that resonates with me!
    Write On!
    Kathy

    • Ollin says:

      Thanks Kathleen. That’s why I like to take a week in the month to repost some old posts because newer readers might have missed some great insights. So this just makes me think I should keep doing that. Glad to hear you liked it!

  7. Jaemus says:

    I’m the same – reading this post for the first time. Your repost was very timely – just what I needed to start my day. I’m working through the Artist’s Way right now and overall it’s going well, but lately have been feeling discouraged and this helped. Thanks.

  8. […] Falling in Love with Small Things, by Ollin Morales.  My favorite line:  “I’m learning as I write my novel that you cannot be a writer unless you love the small things. … Unless you can live with them. Unless you can befriend them.”  I completely agree:  as a writer and a reader, the small details always grab me the most. […]

  9. Tammy says:

    Celebrating the sacred in the ordinary!

  10. Kandy says:

    I do love this simple approach. I will take the time to breath in… Slowly…discovering each thought with all clarity my breath has to offer.

    Thank you

  11. Awe!! I love this so much! This is sincerely my favorite post of the week.🙂

  12. Beautiful. I love small things. Ordinary every day simplicity isn’t so ordinary really. It’s a treasure.

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