So this is where it all began.
When I say "it" I don't mean the universe, or life on the planet or the advent of Christianity. This time "it" just means this. What you are reading. This blog. A small thing.
See, not everything is big. Not everything is grand or destined for greatness. Some things are just little things in the mighty scheme of big things.
When the dramas in my life used to get me down, I would imagine that all the actions and reactions and heartaches and intrigues were just too small for anyone's spare care - they were like a game being played out on a giant board in a cosmic fire station of some alternate universe.
I used to envisage an alarm ringing and the firefighters running off to slide down their slippery pole to go and rescue some ethereal princess who was doing really important stuff - way more important than my failing relationship and impending single motherhood, or my inability to pay the latest electricity bill, or the size of my growing butt.
I used to wonder what would happen if, in the quiet empty room, cockroaches raced across the surface of the playing area to nibble at a near-by abandoned lunch. Would we feel the earth shaking stomp of alien feet across the globe?
Or if the station mascot, a playful dalmatian approached the board and bumped it with a wagging tail would we all simply fall into the abyss? "Naughty Spot. Now look what you've done. Hey guys, we'll have to start all over again. The bloody dog wrecked the game. Somebody get some beers and we'll scrap this lot and start over". Small actions can have a big consequence - Exit humanity.
When I was 13, I was going to be a netball champion and play forever or until I married Gary Shannon, whichever came first. Neither did, but both were my all consuming passions. When I was 16, I was going to be a famous Broadway musical theater actress or a rock star to rival Donna Summer or Rickie Lee Jones - at that stage I had grown out of Gary and was thinking more along the lines of Jackson Browne - that dream hung around until I was 25!
(Though I WOULD still consider giving Jackson a run for his money). No 'little' life for me.
My idea of myself was always big. I never thought I would just be a mum or a tobacco picker. I never thought I'd work in a quiet office or care so little about the way I appeared that I would go to the shops in my PJs. I never imagined I could be in so much physical or emotional pain, that waking up each morning might not be the blessing it's cracked up to be. Yet all of these things, inconsequential to the vast majority of humans, have been among the threads that hold my life together. Little tiny things.
Just little things. Little things that in my reality, were very big things. Yet ...
A few weeks ago and idea hit me when I saw some photos on Facebook. For the past five years I have been working as a photographer and journalist for a rural community paper (www.echo.net.au). In the course of my work I am always looking for the big or interesting news stories, or an item that is a scoop or controversial. Newspapers rarely publish the mundane - well a good news service doesn't. It's the nature of the beast.
But one man's mundanity is another man's treasure or life blood, or in the case of the FB photo: poultry apparel.
Recently a North Coast artist, mum and chook fashion entrepreneur, put her creativity to good use when her friend's daughter was approaching her fifth birthday. Rather than just wandering into the local Toys 'R' Us and purchasing the first Barbie on the shelf, Frankie Sharman took the time to think about what the child might actually want rather than what would be good gift from the giver's perspective. She cared enough about the happiness of a little girl to do something small. This wasn't a grand gesture, just the time it takes to consider another person's feelings -long enough to think what the child wanted rather than what she wanted.
So ... Frankie thought about what Marni would like for her birthday. As it turns out, the thing that Marni likes to play with the most are her choox: 'Honey Bunny', 'Gert', 'Percy', 'Scambo' 'Toby', 'Ozzi' and her favourite 'Rainbow'. The thought struck Frankie that a few scraps of material and elastic she has floating around the house would better serve her little friend than Mattel's Most Majestic Masterpiece, and she set to work sewing the worlds most exclusive line of chook frox.
This might sound just too simplistic and on one level it might be, but on so many other levels it is the most massive and generous thing one human can do for another. When do we really think about someone else? When do we care about not only about how someone thinks but how they feel? When do we really take into consideration how our actions may positively or adversely affect another human?
When a junkie robs someone for their next fix do they care that what they take might be the last few dollars to support a meal for a poor family and that the stress of this may cause terrible damage? (This is not melodrama, this happened in my life - no I wasn't the junkie).
When a teacher belittles a student in the sixth grade, do they know that the child might leave that trauma to go home to the worse trauma of an abusive or substance addicted parent and the teachers flippant jibe is one more thread in their life - a thread in a hanging rope?
When a youth steps off a footpath and smiles at an old lady to let her pass without getting her feet wet on the nature strip, does he think that it might be the only human contact she has that day? A small smile can make a person's day.
When bigoted and racist comments flow freely from your lips do you imagine that the recipient of your venom is just another human like you - with parents or children, with fears and responsibilities, with love and hopes and dreams?
How we treat each other matters. How we think about each other creates ripples that reverberate beyond our control. Little things become big things and these things are not necessarily on the news or in the paper but they still count.
The thing is, there was nothing for Frankie to gain from the exercise - well nothing but the love and adoration of a five-year-old, but in terms of what would she 'get' for her efforts the answer is nothing. Not a single, solitary thing. The 'non-news' of the chook frox would have passed into oblivion but for a random photo I saw on Facebook of the aforementioned garments.
This is just a little story about someone thinking about someone else.
altruism: disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.
- Oxford Dictionary
Let this be our new religion.