It’s always the little things that turn the everyday into something special. The seasoning on a steak, the perfect sauce on a meatloaf, that unexpected dash of lemon juice on a salad, the pin that perfectly sets off a dress.
Right now I’m working my way through The Lost Ancients, a series by Marie Andreas. Each book is a good story that can stand alone but there is also a story in the overall series. Ms. Andreas may not be a perfect writer technically, but her writing is delightful and delightfully entertaining, and it’s because of the little things.
As with most fantasy stories, there are mythical and magical beings, and a few completely made up. Each of them is a little quirky, which makes them interesting on its own, but then there are the extra dashes of spice.
Take her fairies, for instance. The protagonist has three fairies that have a peculiar relationship with her, almost like pets, but pets that insist on doing their own thing. One of their “things” is declaring war on whoever or whatever upsets them. They deck themselves in war feathers and brandish sharp sticks. Sometimes their activities are critical to the story, and sometimes just comic relief. They also like to slam into the side of her head to greet her. Then there’s their reaction to alcohol. A little makes them drunk, a lot sobers them up. They are so quirky they tickle my funny bone.
It’s the little things that enhance a relationship, too. Things like your husband gassing up your car and taking it through the car wash without being asked, or bringing home your favourite flavor of ice cream.
Wonderful little things are what make life worthwhile. A baby’s laugh, a rainbow, fireflies in the summer darkness, the scent of lilacs drifting through your window, a cardinal’s splash of vermilion against a snow-covered cedar. They’re little drops of pleasure that make up for the unpleasant things we encounter every day. I imagine them as jewels strung on a golden chain. Now and again I pull them out and look at them again, running them through my mind like a rosary runs through your fingers.
Little unpleasant things can get strung on a chain, too, but rather than jewels, they are like sharp-edged clinkers. Too often it’s these chains we finger, remembering over and over that snub, that insult, that unfair action of which we were the unwilling recipient. Running over them again hardens them in our minds, dimming our view of the world, darkening it.
We have a choice which chains we finger. And we also have a choice about what we put on other people’s chains. It takes no effort to smile, to say “thank you”, to compliment someone, and quite often the response is a jewel for your own chain. There is enough unpleasantness in the world without adding to it. Let’s subtract from it, instead.
Let’s try doing this: when someone says or does something that makes us angry or unhappy, let’s look at it and say, “No. I’m not keeping that clinker” and let it drop. When someone says or does something that gladdens our hearts, let’s consciously gather that jewel and give one in return. We can never have too many.
What are your favourite jewels?