Remembering to Think Small

Thinking small does not happen automatically for me. On my morning walks with Frank, my tendency is to think back on any troubles from the day before, or to anticipate those of the day ahead. An argument I had with Stephen, the health crisis of a friend. A client whose writing has stalled. A difficult conversation I need to hold with my son.

Several days ago it was the conversation with Jonah I began fretting about. Within a half block of setting out, I found myself asking, Should I ask him about that? What if he gets angry? Or he misunderstands? Should I wait a bit longer?

Several years ago, I would have penetrated deeper and deeper into that rabbit hole, until by the time Frank and I arrived back home, gloom would have edged out all the light, setting the stage for the rest of my day. Luckily, I now know to catch myself before disappearing underground. “Come on, Jane Anne, you don’t need to be worrying about that. Find something small to concentrate on and shift your perspective,” I told myself.

At that moment, I looked down, and a tiny yellow leaf caught my attention. Rained upon for several days, the leaf was nearly translucent. Still perfectly shaped, its veins and points sharp, it looked like a tiny, glistening, golden fossil. Oh, how beautiful, I thought, and stood gazing for several moments.

By the time I looked up again, all thoughts of my conversation with Jonah had floated off into the ether, and I could feel myself breathing more deeply and feeling lighter. And as Frank and I continued our walk, I noticed all the golden and red-orange leaves strewn about on the sidewalk from the trees planted along the parking strip. Fifteen minutes later, back home walking up my front steps, the beauty of the tiny leaf was still with me.

For the next few days, I continued to notice the leaf formations on the sidewalk. They were no longer simply piles of fallen leaves, but compositions created by nature–abstracts with curves and straightaways, swirls and coils. Morning walks with Frank were like pictures at an exhibition, and I was no longer tempted to think about difficulties and complications. Instead, thanks to remembering to think small, my early mornings were now filled with light.

French Graffiti


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