Many of you know that I have a collection of children’s books in my office. You may not know I also have a collection of small books. It’s an eclectic mix, collected over the years. While wandering through an airport bookstore, I found two wonderful little books to add to the collection.
The first one is called “Yiddish Wisdom, Yiddische Chochma.” The wisdom sayings in it range from the classic, “Fun dein Mobil in Got’s oi’erin arein!” (“From your mouth into God’s ears!”), to the unusual, “Men ken nit Karen mit fremde tsein” (“You can’t chew with someone else’s teeth”), to the wonderful, “Die Kalinin harznemt arum did grouse velt” (“The heart is small and embraces the whole world”).
The second book is entitled “Taking Things Seriously: 75 Objects with Unexpected Significance.” Visualize 75 varied objects like a bear lamp, a tiny little pine and a handful of dirt all faced by 75 short essays. The authors describe these items as “…ordinary things instilled with extraordinary significance.” They go on to say “contributors to this volume… Do much more than catch a glimpse of things. They single things out, linger over them … then share their excitement and bemusement, their embarrassment and joy with the rest of us.” There is meaning for each contributor in the item shown.
I enjoy looking at these pictures and reading the accompanying essays. I learn something about the person who wrote the essay and save the item pictured. It makes me wonder what things do others take seriously? What odd little objects have importance? Where do we find meaning or wisdom?
In our work we often talk about the big picture and the little details. Being able to change perspective from details to the big picture and back again is an important work skill; it is also an important life skill.
These little books remind me to add one more perspective to the mix — not all of the details, but rather one little thing of significance. It could be a paperweight on your desk — take a moment to pick it up and really look at it, remember how you got it and why you have it. Or stop when you hear yourself speaking a wisdom that you learned from a grandparent, who may have had to translate it from another language for you. Remember how and when you would hear those words.
Noticing one detail in this way can help ground us on a busy, hectic day. One little detail can help us take a deep breath, literally or mentally, to refresh ourselves or reconnect with what is important.
My challenge to you is to pick up one object or idea of unexpected significance and enjoy it. Then share something extraordinary with the rest of us.