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Small Things of Disproportionate Importance

I managed to get bread flour last week. And yeast. If you’re a reader of my newsletter…

I managed to get bread flour last week. And yeast.

If you’re a reader of my newsletter, you’ll already know this, because I told you over the weekend, but finding flour has assumed such importance that I’m still excited about this and want to tell everyone, even though it’s now a week since that momentous event. And there’s part of me that thinks, Kim, come on. It’s flour. You would have survived not being able to make bread for a few weeks.

Which is true. But it’s not the point, is it?

I think all of us have found previously unimportant things taking on very strange proportions in this new world we’re navigating. In some ways, it’s pretty unhelpful. I mean, on your average Wednesday I can start from the smallest incident, like did I accidentally cut in front of that woman at the shop? and think myself in ever-decreasing circles until I wind up at, well, everyone saw, they all hate me now, and I can never go back there. Given a whole pandemic to over-think … well, the possibilities are endless.

Am I too close to the person in front of me? Did I sanitise the trolley? Did I – oh no, I need to sneeze. Don’t sneeze. DON’T SNEEZE.

But it hasn’t actually worked that way. Okay, I do sometimes dither for ages when I get back to the car after a shop, because I’m trying to figure out how to sanitise my hands, keys, and the car door handle, all while not dropping anything or letting the trolley run away. And sometimes I realise I’ve picked up the post and not washed my hands after, so wander around the house with disinfectant trying to remember what I’ve touched since. And I’ve also realised that my understanding of what two metres looks like is not shared my everyone. Or they’re just not over-thinking it.

The biggest change, though, is that small things matter. Good small things. Fun small things. I mean, that box of flour was hard-won! I had to keep going back to the website to find it in stock! It took about a dozen attempts to get through the checkout, but I have flour! Triumph! Yes! (And for any UK readers – it was the Dove’s Farm flour box. You don’t get to choose what goes in it, but you end up with lots of pretty packets of flour.)

Small Things of Disproportionate Importance, life, self care

THERE WILL BE BREAD

I found canned corn in the supermarket today. Awesome. There are strange, unidentified plants popping up in the garden, which I think are from some bulbs I shoved in there, and now can’t remember what they are. They’re like a weird, magical present from past me to future me. I’ve made a sourdough starter, and it’s currently bubbling wildly about the place, full of possibility (although so far none of the bread has been as successful as the starter. But it’s still cool).

So many beautiful little things, and that’s before we even start thinking about the big little things, like being able to chat to friends and family on the other side of the world because technology is amazing, or that even if there are gaps on the shop shelves, we can still get so many things (trust me, as someone who has lived many years in parts of the world where you can get very few of the things, this is awesome). And we can download books and stream music and movies, and maybe sit on a windowsill and watch the birds and the world pass, and it’s all so, so beautiful.

Bernard the starter. Yes, he is named for Black Books, and yes, he got a bit over-enthusiastic.

We so rarely see the little things all around us that make up the fabric of our world, the minutiae that weave our days together. That hold the world together. We’re too busy worrying about things that seem terribly important at the time, but actually … they’re probably not.

So here’s what I think matters right now.

Protect your health, in all aspects. That means mental and emotional as well as physical. Yes, wash your hands, keep your distance, stay home if you can. But don’t neglect the mental and emotional aspects of what’s happening right now. These are not small things. Do not push them down. Talk to someone if you need to. You have every right to not be okay, even if (as we always tell ourselves) other people have it worse. It’s okay to be tired, it’s okay to be anxious and worried and scared, it’s okay to not be able to sleep, it’s okay to sleep too much, it’s okay to change how we eat and how we live and how we are. Don’t try and force normality onto yourself. Accept that things are not normal, and do what you need to do to navigate it.

Happiness is a sleeping cat’s snores and beautiful little murder mitts.

Find the small things that lift your day. Have long baths. Get outside. Eat cake. Make art. Paint your toenails. If it works to keep you grounded, to give you perspective and make the days easier to manage, these things matter.

Find the small things that bring beauty into your world. The terrible cuteness of a sleeping cat’s paws. The softness of a dog’s ears. The colours of the sun coming up (or going down). Hedgehog videos (see below if you need one right now). Old photos. Wearing your favourite clothes (I’m wearing summer dresses and shorts and wrapping myself in blankets for half the day. Look, I miss warm weather, okay?). The slow ritual of making tea, when you can actually take time about it.

Let go of what’s unnecessary, and bringing you more stress than benefit. Keeping up appearances with the ironing? Pyjamas need wrinkles. It’s compulsory. Haven’t washed your hair since Easter? It’s the no ‘poo method. That’s honestly a thing. Trying to do All The Things (TM) that social media has been saying you should – write a book, cook fancy meals, learn a new language, make sourdough bread? These only matter if they help you. Put an apple and some fancy cheese on a breadboard and call it good.

And, above all, remember that even those things that may have been small and unnoticed before (that dandelion by the door, the way the light falls across the floors in the afternoon, the first sip of tea (or coffee) in the morning) can be enormously important now. We can find joy in moments we never noticed before, because our perspective has been shifted for us.

None of which means we must. For many of us, sticking to familiar routines can be the best way through. But if you have the chance, if you can take that time … Look a little closer. See if you can find small things that you think, yes. That matters.

Because so many of them do.

And now, because one of my happy things is watching old music vids, this one seems appropriate because it both makes me giggle, and the title fits.

Then tell me, lovely people – what small things have become beautiful and important to you? Share away below!

coronavirus, covid-19, happiness, lockdown, mental health, quarantine, self care

  1. Carolyn says:

    I definitely believe we should admire cats for their ability to adapt and can be friendly without being needy. I have found a solace in reading my father’s flight log from the war and admiring the different aircraft he flew and the places he went to. He may be gone now but remembering his stories gives me a little inner happiness. Small things to enjoy are better than worrying about things we cannot change. (Que sera, sera as Doris Day sang)

    1. Kim Watt says:

      Oh, having your dad’s flight log must be wonderful! My dad’s started telling more old stories now than he used to, and I love listening to them. He does have all his old boat logs still, but no those stories. I need to sneak a recorder under the table at some point…

      And I’m so with you on enjoying the small things and letting the rest go. I mean, in theory. It doesn’t always work for me, but it’s something to work towards 😉

  2. BJ says:

    I truly enjoyed the Hedgehog obstacle course. I can not believe it actually runs through the whole thing. I found my self cheering it on when it could not make it over one of the obstacles.

    1. Kim Watt says:

      I’m just the same! I’ve watched a couple of them now, and I end up getting VERY invested in it. Very much my sort of sports show, that!

Comment away! (Points awarded for comments involving cats, tea, or baked goods)

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