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Small Stuff

on Apr 8, 2012

Don't Sweat The Small Stuff
And It's All Small Stuff

I sit with my hands at the ten o'clock and two o'clock position. Focus. Control. Don't get angry.

Don't get angry at the guy in the yellow Mercedes waiting to take a left. Without creeping out into the intersection so that I and the four cars behind me can squeeze past. My car's not that big; he only needs to roll forward a few feet. Instead, he remains stubbornly behind the faded white stop line with his left turn signal blinking, blinking, blinking. I am turning left, left, left. I am turning left. And have you read my bumper sticker today?

Don't Sweat The Small Stuff
And It's All Small Stuff

I read it over and over. And over. I look at the back of this man's head, his dark hair curling wildly, brushing the roof of the car. His eyes reflected in the rear view mirror. He doesn't look back and see the line of cars behind him. Maybe we're small stuff to him. Don't sweat us. We're just stuck behind you as you sit there in your biodeisel car with your zen-like patience and your complete unwillingness to actually GO! GO GODDAMN YOU! Just! Go! I could have driven a herd of three legged cattle through that gaping hole in oncoming traffic.

Don't Sweat The Small Stuff
And It's All Small Stuff

As I sit there, I think about small stuff. The smallest stuff. A tiny baby so small that he fits into the palm of your hand. Tiny lungs too weak and immature to take a breath. Tiny trachea just too narrow for life saving intubation. Tiny heart that stopped beating before he was even born. Tiny dead future.

Look, asshole, it's not all small stuff. I mean, I know what you're trying to say. Don't freak out over the dishes in the sink or never being able to find your left shoe when you need it. Just let go of the anger and anxiety that wells when you're stuck in traffic or get a parking ticket or whatever it was that you used to get worked up about before you found god at the bumper sticker emporium. But it is not. Not all of it is actually small stuff.

So okay, it might not all be gargantuan Earth shattering stuff. Asteroid killing the dinosaurs big, or bubonic plague big, or World War 3 big. But there is deep catastrophe. Losing your job big. Having your family torn apart by loss and grief big. Dead baby big.

And there's all the other stuff that doesn't stop just because you lost your house or your kid or your job or your mind or whatever. Bills keep coming in whether you can pay them or not, and I don't just mean financially. You have to write the check to the hospital for the delivery. You have to write the check to the funeral home for the cremation. You have to get dressed and start the car, even though it's the last thing you want to do. You have to exchange pleasantries with the receptionist at the funeral home. You have to drive home with your son's ashes. And through all of that, you have to not rage and claw at every smug assface who wants to tell you that everything happens for a reason. That things will turn out okay in the end. That god doesn't give any of us more than we can handle.

Don't Sweat The Small Stuff
And It's All Small Stuff

Sometimes small stuff is decidedly not small stuff. Sometimes you hate and you seethe and you feel absolutely defeated by the left shoe that refuses to be found on the day that you need to get out of the house while you can still breathe. By the man in the stinking yellow car with its chirpy little message telling you that the small things aren't worth the hassle, the fight, the worry. That your ache and your anger are misplaced. Your feelings, invalid.

He finally goes, on the yellow. I'm up next, but for me the light is red.

Comments

I love the perspective on this non-interactive interaction and how it sensitively frames the experience.

Lauren, you really are the sweetest. I love that I've made a friend in you. (Though I am so so sorry that we met under such painful circumstances.)

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