Written by: Kate Konopka
Ever feel like you want to make a difference in the world but life seems to get in the way? I think we can all relate to having great intentions and aspirations not only for our days, but also our lives. For some it is a New Year's resolution to lose a few of those extra pounds, or to be more patient. Or maybe it is the promises we make to finally get together with friends that never seem to evolve; or the idea that we will become more involved in our community whether through volunteerism or activism. Or maybe it is that we will someday have the ability to influence and affect people in grand ways like Oprah. These are definitely things that have crossed my mental plate, often in the middle of the night when my subconscious is testing me to finally figure out what living a meaningful life really entails.
Regardless of your faith (or lack thereof), if you are a Coxsackie native you have likely heard about our local priest, Father Scott Vanderveer. He is a dynamic, energetic, uplifting individual who seems to have a positive effect on all who encounter him. He has also become known for his relatable homilies that inspire his parishioners (myself included) to take on the week with a mission to live their lives just a little bit better. This past Sunday he delivered what I believe is perhaps his best message yet, and it revolved in part around how "the little things" we do in life can make a big difference in the lives of those around us, often without us even realizing it.
I am one of those people who no matter what I do, seems to seek ways that I can be better or do better. It has served me well in the restaurant business, and although on the surface that sounds like a good thing, the reality is that it fosters a sense of never quite being good enough or doing enough. It's not that I lack self esteem or that I have issues from childhood because there could be nothing further from the truth on both accounts. I think it is more that I may have been searching for things that I've recently come to realize were there all along!
Living a meaningful life is not about the grand things we do. It's more about the little day to day things that we do that "shine a light" in another person's world. For me it's the little interactions I have with our customers each and every day, knowing that for some we are the first smile or warm welcome they have received in a long time. It's speaking to a group of teens who seem to have no interest in a word you say, only to learn later that two of them were moved to do something positive because I was there. It's being patient with the cashier who is rude and doesn't seem to appreciate my business, knowing that my show of patience may subtly suggest that I understand she is human with things hanging heavy on her heart too. It's calling my Mom on a whim to invite her to ride along while I do errands because a mom can never get enough time with her kids, even when that kid is 50 years old. It's finding a way to laugh with a loved one who is dying so that he knows we are going to be ok, even if we don't believe it ourselves. It's giving my 17 year old a silent hug, even after he makes the same mistake for the umpteenth time, showing him that love should be unconditional and unwavering.
My challenge in life is no longer to be the best at everything, or to do magnanimous things for the whole world to see. It is recognizing the small moments, the tiny acts of kindness, the seemingly insignificant interactions, that together add up to big things in this big world.
It's the little things.