But what about the little things that make it so hard?
Sometimes, it’s the little things. It is the paver stone in the backyard that sunk in one corner when a mole tunneled underneath it last summer. It is the dog water bowl tipping as I pick it up and it spills across the floor and into the grout lines, flooding the kitchen. It is dropping my phone just as the truck door slams, the pocket in my jacket rips, and something crunches like tractor tires on the gravel. It is the cascading tears that finally come as I empty myself out until there’s nothing left but a shell.
The big things do not tend to bother me. I mean, they do, don’t get me wrong. They bother me individually, in their subject matter, but they don’t bring me to earth-shattering, heart-wrenching tears like the little mundane “oopsies.” The phone call I receive in the middle of the night that my little girl’s boyfriend booted her out without warning? No problem. I can mobilize a family moving crew at 2 a.m. and have her out by 5. Plan a funeral in 24 hours? I can do it in 12, and even have a playlist and slideshow ready like some otherworldly party planner.
If they require me, I gladly move into action and don’t stop until my work is done. They remind me of what it feels like to be a machine — always moving, always working, a quick recharge and back to work. They make me feel powerful, needed, purposeful, human again — something I sometimes forget I am.
The little things make me feel small. Wiping up a gallon of water feels desperate as the flow escapes my slow painful crawl. The task reminds me that my knees are old and my back stiff and achy. The teetering paver stone reminds me of last spring when I tripped over the mere one-inch gap and couldn’t get up by myself, resulting in a broken foot and an ugly scar across my knee.
The little things remind I am a little thing. I am no big deal, nothing to think long about — just an inconvenience in an otherwise pleasant day. I’m not the ten-foot dome made of bicycle tires that a family stops to see — I’m the tiny faded plaque about a person that used to matter.
According to Briggs-Meyer, I need a purpose. I need a greater sense of my place in the world and why I’m here. That is no small feat while wrestling with a chronic illness and a world hell bent on sending us all into isolation repeatedly to question things about ourselves that I, for one, would be better off leaving well enough alone. With my children grown and my career retired, I need a new purpose. Finding a purpose is a big deal, but what about the little things that make it so hard?