Little Things | Sep 2004

FMBR Editorial: Sep, 2004

Little Things

William C. Gough

Don't Sweat Them: After September 11th, one company invited the remaining members of other companies who had been decimated by the attack on the Twin Towers to share their available office space. At a morning meeting, the head of security told stories of why these people were alive -- and all the stories were just: LITTLE things.

As you might know, the head of the company got in late that day because his son started kindergarten. Another fellow was alive because it was his turn to bring donuts. One woman was late because of being stuck on the NJ Turnpike because of an auto accident. One of them missed his bus. One spilled food on her clothes and had to take time to change. One's car wouldn't start. One went back to answer the telephone. One had a child that dawdled and didn't get ready as soon as he should have. One couldn't get a taxi. The one that struck me was the man who put on a new pair of shoes that morning, took the various means to get to work but before he got there, he developed a blister on his foot. He stopped at a drugstore to buy a Band-Aid. That is why he is alive today.

Now when I am stuck in traffic, miss an elevator, turn back to answer a ringing telephone, all the little things that annoy me, I think to myself, this is exactly where I am supposed to be at this very moment. Next time your morning seems to be going wrong, the children are slow getting dressed, you can't seem to find the car keys, you hit every traffic light, don't get mad or frustrated; "goddess" is watching over you.

Appreciate Them: Lisa Beamer, the wife of Todd Beamer who said "Let's Roll!" and helped take down the plane that was heading for Washington, D.C., said it's the little things that she misses most about Todd. Things like hearing the garage door open as he came home, and her children running to meet him. Lisa recalled this story:

I had a very special teacher in high school many years ago whose husband died suddenly of a heart attack. About a week after his death, she shared some of her insight with a classroom of students. As the late afternoon sunlight came streaming in through the classroom windows and the class was nearly over, she moved a few things aside on the edge of her desk and sat down there. With a gentle look of reflection on her face, she paused and said, "Class is over. I would like to share with all of you, a thought that is unrelated to class, but which I feel is very important.

"Each of us is put here on earth to learn, share, love, appreciate and give of ourselves. None of us knows when this fantastic experience will end. It can be taken away at any moment. Perhaps this is God's way of telling us that we must make the most out of every single day." Her eyes beginning to water, she went on, "So I would like you all to make me a promise. From now on, on your way to school, or on your way home, find something beautiful to notice. It doesn't have to be something you see, it could be a scent, perhaps of freshly baked bread wafting out of someone's house, or it could be the sound of the breeze slightly rustling the leaves in the trees, or the way the morning light catches one autumn leaf as it falls gently to the ground.

"Please look for these things, and cherish them. For, although it may sound trite to some, these things are the 'stuff' of life. The little things we are put here on earth to enjoy. The things we often take for granted. We must make it important to notice them, for at anytime it can all be taken away." The class was completely quiet. We all picked up our books and filed out of the room silently. That afternoon, I noticed more things on my way home from school than I had that whole semester.

Every once in a while, I think of that teacher and remember what an impression she made on all of us, and I try to appreciate all of those things that sometimes we all overlook. Take notice of something special you see on your lunch hour today. Go barefoot, or walk on the beach at sunset. Stop off on the way home tonight to get a double dip ice cream cone. For as we get older, it's not the things we did that we often regret, but the things we didn't do. Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Note: The above are forwarded e-mail pieces received from Dr. Robbins Bell, an astrophysicist and longtime member of FMBR. Robbins also e-mails us her monthly newsletter, Dancing Stars, with interesting facts about the wonders of our immense cosmos, plus her personal observations about life and Nature. Since joining FMBR, Robbins has married, recently left NASA, and is now focusing upon the "little things." Robbins gave birth to Trevor Miller Cox on August 19th. He weighed in at 8 pounds 2 ounces.

William C. Gough, FMBR Chairman of the Board; Sep, 2004
billgough@fmbr.org