Privilege Blog

Small Things To Large, Or, Saturday Morning At 10:40am

This morning I was briefly seized by the spirit of my mother. I am happy to report that, yes, in fact, I do have all the bedding required to house people in our second guest room. Took me a few minutes to find everything, as it was scattered around my closets. That has been rectified.

Something you hear a lot in women’s writing is the joy of simple things, or small things. Small things make me unhappy, unless they can be expanded one way or another.

Some background. Small motor work explodes my nervous system; knitting, calligraphy, screwdrivers. But gross motor work is a tonic. I can hammer anything. Even with no-motor work, done by flights of logic or fancy, I do better with big than small, better with the first 20% than the final 80, better with structure than finishes.

My point?

  1. I am reminding myself to stand up more, to dance more, to type less.
  2. When a longish while back I wrote a post about being a project person vs. a product person I got some emails saying it had been useful. Maybe you’re more gross motor than small, or the other way around, and maybe that perspective would be helpful.

My mother truly did love small things. I can only sort blankets happily if I peg the simple act to an idea. Seems the idea would be, in fact, my mother.

Have a wonderful weekend.


6 Responses

  1. Paul and I used to joke that we were both, unfortunately, big-picture people, and we needed someone in the union who could look after the necessary small stuff. In fact, I’ve recognized gradually that some small stuff IS important to me: I knit, I like to embroider, I catch copy-editing errors like nobody’s business, and I am picky about how the back of the bathroom faucets are cleaned ;-) I’ve had ample small-motor focus with my years of piano, but then grew to love running which is gross-motor. . .
    And when I get stuck in, I will often keep going. . .

    I guess I like to think I know the difference between what’s really important and what’s not . . .

    Mostly what seems important to me is knowing that we have choices (okay, I do know this is variable according to levels of privilege). Some of what I’ve left by the wayside might be what seems Big to others, but letting it go has let me do my own Big. Yikes! Am I even making sense here? You so often get me thinking in inspiring abstract ways (plus I’m pre-flight scattered today ;-)

    1. Frances, yes, you are making sense. More than I did, probably. I have always been struck by the strength of your small motor capabilities, with the knitting and painting, and now that you point it out I do see how your range from Big to Small is very big itself:)

  2. When small things fit nicely in to something larger and ultimately very complete, I find that very satisfying. Maybe that is the consistent planner in me. Having purpose is important and seeing how smaller things fit into the big picture is always satisfying. I need the big picture first. From there, I can plan all the actions (small and large) required to execute.

  3. I would define “small” in this instance…one, as in small motor skill activities, and the other….as in, seemingly small acts, like baking bread, planting flowers, cleaning the pantry. Although I do have good fine motor skills, I don’t love those activities and find them sort of agitating, rather than relaxing. The other small, I do love – and it doesn’t necessarily have to fit into a larger plan, it can be an act of it’s own. I think the pandemic spurred me to enjoy these seemingly small acts of simplicity just on their own, and find satisfaction in them.

    One question – why, when you clean a house one time, do you have to keep doing it over and over again :)) ???

  4. Back in the days when we gave real dinner parties – you know, the kind you dress up for, and serve coffee in the parlor afterward with your wedding-gift demitasse set and brandy glasses – I virtually channeled your mother. All those “small things” that go into a creating a memorable evening together with friends, and which she was so good at. I generally got by with my own enthusiasm and my husband’s cooking, but I always wished I could be as thoughtful and gracious as she always was.

    So I am smiling at you checking the linens before any prospective guests arrive – a “small thing,” yes, but in service to the larger desire to make guests feel welcome and comfortable, and to make their visit special. Or at least, to make sure they won’t have to make do with old sleeping bags reeking of mothballs!

    And I am sure your mother is smiling too…

  5. I do have good fine motor skills, having done quilting, appliquéing, needlepoint, petitpoint(!), crossstitch, embroidery, English smocking, French hand sewing, crocheting, knitting and worked at a photo studio doing touch ups with a fine brush. However, in my senior years I’ve lost interest and prefer developing large motor skills. I suppose it’s all in service of staying mobile – use it or lose it? Or would you define small as in small details because I am rather detail obsessed and have to remind myself to look at the big picture. Again, with age, I am becoming more aware of the long view.

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