Monday’s post, “Don’t Sweat It!” reminded me of Richard Carlson’s little book, “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff…And It’s All Small Stuff.”
But isn’t it strange how the “small stuff” can sometimes get to us in a big way?
I was driving home, tired. We have a garage that fronts onto a main street in the city and as I pulled up, I saw a big pickup parked in front of our garage, directly under the “No Parking” sign, so that I couldn’t enter. The owner of the pickup was right there, so I pulled over, jumped out and let him have it! And it felt really good—for about a minute.
And then, as I walked away, it felt horrible. I thought, “Where did that come from?” It was a hot day, so I went into the house and got some ice cream bars. Then I walked back and found the guy with his work crew next door. He saw me coming and bristled, but I said, “That was stupid, you didn’t need that, and I don’t want to be like that!” He was gracious, we had a more human moment, and I gave the ice cream bars to his workers.
That experience reminded me: (a) I’m only human, (b) life comes straight at us, sometimes without warning, and (c) it’s important to stay alert to what is Small Stuff and what is Big Stuff. And the truth is, there is a whole lot of Small Stuff and only a few things that qualify as Big Stuff.
A famous writer was walking in New York City with a friend. They stopped in a newsstand and, for some reason, the clerk was very rude to the writer. The writer responded courteously, even though the clerk continued to be quite rude.
As they left, the writer’s friend said, “Why did you keep responding like that when the man was so rude to you?” The writer answered, “Because I didn’t want him to control who I am.”
So, Not Sweating the Small Stuff is not only about preserving our own peace of mind—though it is that. It’s also about the kind of persons we most want to be in the world.
And who you and I most want to be—ah, that is not “small stuff.” That’s Big Stuff.