Small Moments, Big Reminders

gift wrappedIn the grand scheme of life, this past week was rather uneventful. Yet, small reminders of how to live were wrapped up in my mundane, everyday activities.

On Saturday, I was the local grocery store when I thought I passed someone I knew. Instead of turning around, I glanced into the side view mirror of my shopping cart.

I know . . . shopping carts don’t have side view mirrors, rear view mirrors or any other mirrors. But, I’ve been spending a lot of time on my bike recently, and I’m constantly checking for cars in the side mirror attached to my handlebars. Apparently, the muscle memory of steering a bike is similar to pushing a grocery cart.

My action was ridiculous, and even though no one else would have even noticed the quick glance into nothing, my behavior kept me from actually turning around to see the person. Instead, I put my head down and hurriedly pushed the cart forward.

Saturday’s reminder: Never be so focused on moving away from our mistakes or missteps that we fail to turn around and face the current situation.

Sunday during church, the choir sang a particularly uplifting song, and as members finished singing, a little boy in the pew behind us started clapping. This was followed by his father’s hushed but angry voice saying “you don’t clap in church!”

The father’s reaction to his son’s joy and celebration reminded me how often we let society dictate how we express our feelings. I wish I had turned around and said, “What better place is there to clap than in church?” But I didn’t.

Sunday’s reminder: Don’t let anyone prevent you from expressing joy and happiness.

I was sitting at my desk at work on Monday, when my cell phone rang. Even though I didn’t recognize the number, I answered anyway. The call was from a former neighbor currently living in the Ukraine. As she recited all the countries her children have visited as part of their education and all the trips she is constantly making, I started feeling as though my life is dull and unremarkable. Then she told me her family is coming home after two years, and she was looking for advice regarding  schools.

Since I rarely go through a day when someone doesn’t ask me for advice, I didn’t initially think much about her questions. But later, I realized she had given me a compliment.

Monday’s reminder: Being asked for an opinion is a sign of trust, and having someone’s trust is a remarkable gift.

Last month, my colleagues and I moved from our offices to a building that had previously served as a doctors’ office. Despite the large sign out front that says “research center” and the paper sign we put on the front door with the doctors’ new address, patients still come through our doors.

On Tuesday, a woman came walking down the hall yelling loudly, “Where’s my cancer doctor?” I politely told her the doctor had moved and that the address was posted on our front door. The look she gave me indicated she needed more instruction, so I walked her to the door and read her the sign. She repeated the address as she walked to her car.

Tuesday’s reminder: Being able to read is something many of us take for granted, and making assumptions that everyone can get the message through the written word is presumptuous.

My daughter just got braces, and she isn’t bothered at all by them. In fact, she loves the color (aqua) and the attention she’s getting. On Wednesday, she took her customary place in the passenger seat of my Jeep, pulled down the visor, flipped open the mirror and admired her mouth. Then she turned to me and said, “You know, I’m not the one who has to get used to the braces, since I don’t look at myself all the time. Everyone else has to get used to them.”

Wednesdays reminder: Perspective really is everything.

Thursday after work I hurried home so I could get in a bike ride before I had to transport my daughter to evening activities. One of my older neighbors was outside with her dog, so I stopped to talk. Oak catkins were spread all over her lawn and driveway, and she apologized for the mess. Since I was focused on her and her dog, I hadn’t even noticed until she drew attention to them.

Thursday’s reminder: Don’t apologize to others for living your life the way you want. If people judge how you spend your time, they aren’t worth making time for.

On Friday, I was riding my bike on the bridge over the interstate near my house. I could see that traffic on the exit was backed up almost to the highway, and my first reaction was that there must have been another accident on Interstate 81. (Such accidents have become almost daily events.) But traffic on the interstate was moving smoothly.

As I rode through the light at the exit, I noticed the first vehicle in line was about a car’s length back from the white line that distinguishes the exit from the road. It also marks a trigger linked to the stop light. Despite the long line of cars and the red light that wasn’t changing, the first vehicle didn’t move. I imagine eventually something prompted the driver to move forward, but I was glad I wasn’t stuck behind him.

Friday’s reminder: Sometimes we can’t wait for something to happen, we have to make it happen ourselves.

This may not have been a week of earth shattering events or life-changing moments, but it was definitely a week to remember.

About Trina Bartlett

I live in the Eastern Panhandle of WV, with one dog, two cats, a daughter and son at West Virginia University and a husband who works strange hours. When I'm not working as a director at a nonprofit social service organization or being a mom, I can generally be found riding my bike, walking my two dogs and stirring things up.

Posted on May 4, 2013, in My life, perspective and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Rarely do the really big things happen to us (and, frankly I’m mostly grateful for that). One message I’m getting loud and clear from this post, though is that the many, many so-called small things add up to much more than the big ones do. We’d all do well to remember that. My resolution this week will be to me more mindful, thanks to your post.

  2. Betty Russell

    Trina – loved your blog – everyday is definitely a new learning experience – we just have to take the time to look for it!!!

    • Sometimes I feel like I’m Jimmy Stewart in “I’ts a Wonderful Life”… waiting for life to really start. And when I feel that way, I have to sit back and take note…The little moments say a lot.

  3. Loved these, especially the Thursday evening one. My lawn is so long right now that small children could get lost in there. Why is it so long? Because I am volunteering all my time this week. I keep wanting to post a sign that says “I am sorry! I will get to it, I promise!!” but then your post reminded me that perhaps my neighbors aren’t really focusing all their energy and free time wondering when I am going to mow my lawn!

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