Small and Simple Things

Think Piece Written By Christian J. Ashliman

Thinking about the looming future, and all it’s possibilities, opportunities, and pathways, can be extremely daunting and difficult. It seems to be a part of our nature: to conceptualize the intense, stressful plans of our lives into small, heavy packages that weigh us down when we think about them. I have a perfect example that occurred just earlier this morning as I was starting my final semester of college. Syllabus Day, as the first day of any semester is known, is filled with handouts and glazed eyes as teachers swathe over what will be the next four months of everyone’s life. Typically an easy day, in regards to homework, Syllabus Day always sort of freaked me out. It consisted of the instructor filling everyone in on everything that will be due, discussed, or worked on throughout the entirety of the course. Multiply that by six courses, and you’ve got an entire spiraling disaster on your hands.

The scarily deceiving part of that scenario is that you are learning about an entire workload all at once; something that will end up being split across 16 weeks in the long run. The immediacy and loom of all this work casts a sort of shadow over an otherwise excellent day. This kind of “future tripping” can happen with all kinds of tasks, not just academic assignments; events like meeting someone for the first time, going on a date, showing up for work, moving to a new place, or even small day to day activities or interactions can stack up and feel burdensome.

I am convinced that people, as in everyone, beyond the bars of social status, race, or gender, have never, and will never, fully “figure it out”, as some would say. Some people have figured out how to make those ends come a little closer to meeting than others have, is all. Weather it’s in the career you have, the relationships you keep, or the activities you enjoy, it is natural to never be perfect at anything. To some this might be distracting or scary, but I believe this can be a comforting thought. It is in those moments when you consider the future and where it can take you, and all of the challenges you have to face, where it is comforting to know that you don’t have to do it perfectly. You don’t have to always bat 300. In fact, it would be boring if you did! No surprise, no anticipation, totally predictable.

It is by small acts that all of these fantastic and great achievements come about. Sitting down, picking up the pen, and putting it on the paper. Pulling yourself out of bed and getting ready for the day. The microscopic happenings of your life are what build and create the amazing accomplishments you have made. These words are as much for me as they are for anyone else: the big picture is a beautiful, colorful thing to look at and keep in mind, but it can have a stress-inducing side effect; focus on the small deeds required to make it down the first step in the path, and before you know it, your feet will be running you away down roads you never saw lying beneath the grass.

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