I've been thinking about smallness.

From the time we were very young, we were told that everything must get bigger: from the kittens and puppies we held, to the books we read, to the wheels we rode upon. From flower seeds planted in spring to the states in our nation. We learned to expect expansion.

"Start small," the saying goes, implying that one shouldn't stay there. And we have "starter homes" and "kid meals." But what about the things that are better small? What if we were to truly appreciate smallness in our lives?

I know nothing more freeing than setting out on a journey with only a small pack. I include a tiny length of dental floss, a fingertip toothbrush, a scrap of stretchy cloth which is actually a hat. Carrying a small pack means you can move nimbly, squeezing into an airport line or beneath a fallen tree. You can hop stones over creeks because you maintain balance. You can stow your pack easily on a train rack. A smaller pack is imperative on a long hike, and prevents injury.

I love small rituals: I light a candle by my journaling chair, and place the extinguished match in a small antique cream pitcher. Just so.

The idea of a small waste receptacle, by the way, was something I gleaned in France. In my travels there, every inn room had a wastebasket no bigger than your palm. The post office kept its wastebasket on the counter. There was no concern over the frequent emptying. That bit of time seemed worth it. Indeed, smallness can be tidy.

My household, currently, is small. My closest friends are small in number, easier to keep track of. My husband and I love small vacations. I like my business small, allowing time for family, life, and long walks. I like the small office I rent. I love the prayer gathering I attend, where often there are four of us, or three, or two, sitting by candlelight for a small hour. My smallest IPOD shuffle clips to my coat collar. Small things can be carried, tracked and protected more easily. They bring on quiet appreciation. They don't attract attention.

I've begun making small paintings. They are portable. I can carry these tiny things anywhere. It's easier to keep them in perspective, knowing they don't have to become grand or jumbo-sized.

I have been graced to have my writing appear in small journals, to have read at small gatherings, and to have performed small roles at church or community theatre. I love primroses and appetizers and small towns. Instead of being famous, as I once thought I needed to be, I have found a small sphere of influence where I can help and encourage.

What is small in your life, that you wouldn't want to change?


  1. I loved reading this! Getting more into my own writing and submitting a couple pieces around I'm often distracted by thinking too big - trying to write the next NY Times Magazine feature rather than just getting it down on paper. Thanks for encouraging me to think small.

  2. Thank you! I like small too, but hadn't stopped to think that it is okay to prefer it. One of my more recent goals is to be unencumbered - it fits in with smallness.

  3. I love this! Small is personal, cozy, warm, special. I'm blessed with a small circle of love every day. I, too, used to think I had to be big in the world, but Mother Teresa taught that "one can do no great things, only small things with great love." Small can change the world. Thank you Christi!

  4. This was a great post! Like you, I have often spent time thinking about the perpetual growth of all things ... and how I prefer to keep things small and simple. You mentioned your close friends. Exactly! I maintain a small number of close friends, that way I can devote more time to each of them.

    Thank you for these thoughts.

  5. Thank you "S"! I'd love to hear what good thing comes out of your focus on small...

    Capable, I love that word, "unencumbered." Thanks!

    Tina, so glad you stopped by with that quote to share!

    Raul, it sounds like you've figured out how to be a great friend.

    See you all soon...


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