I recently built a “helm”, a ship’s steering wheel, for a production of “The King And I”. Although it took me about two hours to make the thing, it will appear only for a total of about ten minutes in the entire play. In fact, it’s just an added extra, to help create a more ship-like feeling for one scene. It might seem like a lot of effort for something that’s not critical to the success of the production but, as the saying goes, every little bit helps. Even one added detail, like a ship’s helm, contributes to the sense that the audience is on board with the actors rather than simply sitting in an auditorium.
While the prop I built adds to the play, it probably won’t stand out; folks won’t remember it as the best feature of the performance. But, sometimes small details work in the opposite way; sometimes a wee, tiny thing will stand out in our memories, helping to reinforce the moment rather than taking away from it. A couple of years after my father’s death, I found myself sitting on a mountainside in the exact spot I had been with him on a previous vacation. That one moment in my memory came back to me and opened a floodgate of healing tears, helping me to bring my grief to completion and allowing me to move on to remember Papa without pain.
A sight, a sound, a place, a word; all can stand out in our minds as a marker to a bigger, more significant thing. They can draws into a moment of joy or sorrow or even release. And there are times when we are that sight, sound, place or word; there are occasions when we are the brief moment in a person’s life that takes them elsewhere, that moves them or touches them in a deep way, even though we might not be the centre or most important thing in that memory; rather, we can be the starting point, the trigger or the key that moves them to another place and time.
Just like the helm that appears in one brief scene, even a small thing can matter greatly; every little bit helps. And so we should be conscious that what we say and do matters to those around us. What seems trivial and silly to us may point them to a deep, meaningful memory; a word tossed off casually or flippantly might draw forth a instance of sorrow or joy; a touch or gesture can create a more significant feeling that words cannot fully draw out.
In our everyday, mundane and even hum-drum interactions with others, every little bit matters; every wee thing counts; no detail is too insignificant, no exchange totally meaningless. Everything we do, say and are makes a difference in the lives of everyone we meet.