Close

REFLECTIONS

Every tiny thing you do matters

We tend to think that only big achievements have an effect on the world around us.

In Summary
  • Our mere presence sets off a ripple effect.
  • Often the suspicion that we will fall short of our dreams and ambitions begins to creep in around March or April.
Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai once said, ‘It is the little things citizens do that make a difference. My little thing is planting trees’ .
Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai once said, ‘It is the little things citizens do that make a difference. My little thing is planting trees’ .
Image: FILE

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it... — Martha Graham

I thought this a fitting quote to start with in this first article of the year as right about now, early days in the year, many of us are settling on a plan for 2020—things we want to achieve, dreams we wish to fulfil over the coming 12 months.

These plans, our plans, will range from grand to modest but whatever the size of the aspiration the inescapable truth is that for many, most of these hopes and dreams won’t come close to what was desired.

 

Often the suspicion that we will fall short of our dreams and ambitions begins to creep in around March or April but come June, possible July, the realisation that we will indeed fall short of what we had hoped for has set in.

And so faced with our imminent shortcomings and flooded in the course of the year with social media images of others’ apparent seamless achievement of great things, images that make one’s stomach clench in envy and despair, one might start to lose hope, feel defeated, feel like nothing they do matters or has any effect on the world.

There is only one of you in all of time, Martha Graham said, and this expression that is you is unique, can never exist through any other medium but you and if blocked the world would be just that little bit different.

We tend to think that only big achievements have an effect on the world around us. That only in winning awards, being on television, being the richest in the neighbourhood matters.

But we’re wrong. Everything you do, even the tiniest little thing matters. There is only one of you in all of time, Martha Graham said, and this expression that is you is unique, can never exist through any other medium but you and if blocked the world would be just that little bit different.

If you don’t believe it look at it this way. Imagine if you weren’t here, that you’d never been and you aren’t the person you are. All the little things you’ve done, or do, people you’ve talked to and the places you’ve been, even if you were just present and didn’t do much, they would have all been different if it weren’t for you; the print you left and the chain reaction it started.

Our mere presence sets off a ripple effect. That last seat you took in a matatu, it meant someone else didn’t and the extra 20 minutes it took them to get the next matatu changed something. Maybe someone was waiting for them and they couldn’t wait any longer.

Or perhaps the matatu they eventually boarded led to a chance meeting with the love of their life or a pickpocket who managed to swipe their wallet or purse. But what if, for some reason, you’d given up the seat to that person? Then there’d be a different ripple because of you.

 

No matter what happens in 2020, whether you succeed or fail in your ambitions, you’re here and that matters enough.