Every morning, I turn on the coffee maker, grab my favorite mug, and then patiently wait as the sound and sight of the slow drip, drip, drip happen like clockwork. This ritual is what made me get through a year filled with worldly anxieties and unknowns.
Knowing I could do this each day, have a coffee in a familiar cup, is the kind of thing that reminds me of how the important things in life are always reflected in simple ways. Coffee, favorite TV shows, walks around neighborhoods, passing by pictures of family and friends, reading the newspaper funnies. They are all the things that kept me going.
These days, we need easy things, little things, common things to keep us going.
A lot of those little things have been taken away. Eating at your favorite childhood restaurant. Watching a movie with an endless bag of popcorn. Waving a little flag during a Fourth of July parade. Cheering on the hometown high school football team. We haven’t done those things and it feels like part of us, is no longer part of us. We are incomplete.
Like almost everything in life, from how we wake up, to what we do at work, how we prepare our meals, and what we like to do in quiet moments, we are usually in control. Now, in the most unusual of times, we have lost our control. At least that’s how it feels to me.
So, when I feel like life is tough and I get nervous about what tomorrow will bring, it comforts me to go back to doing simple things like making a cup of coffee or sitting on the front porch doing not much more than just sitting there.
This year, I have tried to add to my list of little things. I adopted a cat. She gives me endless little things to focus on. I started volunteering at a museum. On Saturdays, with the doors closed to the public and only the sound of traffic passing by, I sit there making my way through donated items and pictures of happy families through the past decades.
Coffee, cats, old pictures and memorabilia, they are good little things that keep me going. Just a few days ago I purchased a mid-century table at an estate sale. I’m teaching myself how to refurbish it and bring it back to life.
I’m doing it because it’s what we all need right now. A little extra effort with some sanding and polishing to bring our former selves back to life. Underneath the layer of worry that has covered us for what seems like forever, there are strong legs and shiny surfaces.
As I think about a new year, I think of new beginnings, new traditions, and new little things. I’ll need them to help fill my time, give me a sense of comfort, and remind me of what really matters in life.
The little things.