I get confused every now and then whether the way to happiness is focussing on the little things or on the so called bigger picture, or both.
Sometimes I feel that there is a push on me to achieve great things, to manage the big projects. House, holidays, the big relationship and that dreaded thing some people call a career (although I firmly prefer to call it a job) kind of hang around your neck like expectant albatrosses.
Worst, these things rarely have an end point or a time when you can sit back and decide that whatever it did actually went well (or it didn’t). Life is not like soap operas (like the now lamentable Downton Abbey – and while we are visiting there I have to say that I am sorry, dear Julian Fellowes, but I feel almost betrayed by you on this one) where you have to create ongoing drama to keep the story going at all costs. So most soap marriages will fail; people will die/be thrown in prison/find lost relatives (never before even hinted that) in a frequency that if it indeed reflected real life the world would be a lot more interesting but infinitely more depressing place than it actually is.
Well, they never end until the series is cancelled at which point it is all a dream/ an exercise in purgatory or you get abducted by aliens (no really http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ju8YH6ewoqQ . I still cannot believe they had the gall to do that. Julian, maybe that’s an option, eh?)
Or everyone just moves to Brisbane.
So the bigger picture never gives me satisfaction because I never actually get to see it. I’m too busy living it.
So then I turn in desperation to the small stuff. Now, we can all get dragged down in the minutiae. That’s certainly true. But in terms of little nuggets of happiness minutiae take some beating.
If you have had the misfortune of reading my ramblings you know that this tags along with a hole I’ve plumbed before.
I find something to smile about as I walk into work at a stupid time in the morning listening to bird song and scaring the rabbits into the trees.
Many older towns in the UK, no matter how unpleasant they appear at ground level improve when you look up. You then notice that actually the building is rather attractive once you get past the generic high street fascia.
And then there are the little people moments. At Wrest Park recently I was doing my patter about some of the decorations in the mansion – rather sweet nineteenth century statues of a little girl and a little boy and the drama of a bird stolen from its nest (there is a happy ending, in case anyone is worried).
This time I was talking to a family that included a girl of about twelve, who appeared to have some level of difficulty following me. But she listened hard and as they left I heard her say to her mother:
‘Mummy, that was so cool!’
Now, I am not a great one for being nice to myself, but at that moment my day was made and I felt the proverbial million dollars. Was it of any importance? To me, yes. I think that will hang on for a while in my memory. I really hope that for the young lady concerned it does too.
I say this is about little things but in reality that is only my perspective and the actual “size” of something we do or say is difficult to judge sometimes. In a role where you meet and interact with many people, it is often very difficult to judge just how small something is. Maybe this girl will grow up to be a major supporter of the RSPB due to a bird story. Maybe it became the centre of her “what I did at the weekend” next week at school (suitably embellished). Maybe she had forgotten everything by the next room.
That’s her story and I’m (probably) not privileged to know it.
But I am happy with my little bit of it and that overall I think they keep me going through my big things. I’m not sure I can really ask for much more than that.
(And the return of most of “The Web of Fear” to the BBC archives is the kind of stupid little thing that makes me want to dance on tables, my inner Doctor Who geek released to make merry.)
*Anyone else remember ‘Big John, Little John’? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBAId5zr25w