Jan 2, 2012

Small Things

Normally, I'm against big things.  I think the world's going to be solved by millions of small things - Pete Seeger
One of my favorite quotes, said with typical humility by Pete Seeger on the celebration concert in honor of his 90th birthday.

I was reminded of it the other day while watching Terrence Malick's brilliant movie, The Tree of Life.  That film is about many things, and almost impossible to summarize. But ultimately I think it's about how the small things in life define the essence of our existence.  Those moments of humor, compassion or cruelty; the odd funny events; the fleeting images and sounds; the comments spoken or not; the memories that fade.  These small moments comprise the whole of our lives moreso than the "big things."

I remembered that last year I read how the writer Austin Kleon keeps an annual logbook - a simple daily planner in which he keeps track "of the little details of my day":

And then I realized why I think people adore (and use) social media services, the ones that connect us.  Because they too are comprised of small things, millions of them, and provide platforms for the sharing and recording of small things. Thoughts, music, images, sounds, essays, randomness. It's why the service Findings has such potential - it allows us to track the marginalia of the things we read. Why Twitter is so addictive - the thoughts in our heads. Why Wordnik is so weird - the words we love.  And so on. Maybe in 2012 I will focus more on paying attention to the small things.

All the while remembering, of course, that Bruce Springsteen wrote: "From small things, mama, big things one day come."

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