Thursday, December 10, 2015

Small Lives

When I started blogging, I did it to tell stories.  I had loads of stories.  Short stories that I wanted to make long, and long stories that were road tested live and fizzled out due to audience exhaustion.  Glazed, darting eyes, the checking of watch and phone – these things are key tells that your audience just isn’t into your story.

I decided to write the stories to avoid the blow of wayward eyes. 

Quickly I realized that I didn’t really have that many stories to tell.  Six months into blogging, I had used up all the good stories that were fit to print.  There are others for sure, but I’m holding them close until key people are good and gone.  Just kidding, just kidding.  But not every story is mine to tell.

When I started telling stories for keeps my kids were seven and nine years old – definitely not the best age for treasured conversations and discoveries, but good enough.  Their shenanigans offered some comedy and warm-hearted cuteness, but not much.  I haven’t logged every one of their milestones, and I’ve forgotten all but the best ones.

Now they are too old for me to share everything they do – they have their own social media presence for that, anyway – and I’m not into scandalizing my children for entertainment.  I could turn to my husband for comic gold, but I’m not into writing about him all the time, either.  He’s an adult, capable of telling his own stories.  And not everything has to be about him, jeez.

It’s no surprise that eventually I figured out that this life is a small one.

As a kid I entertained visions of being famous – an actor, a singer, the lead guitarist in a band, never mind that I didn’t play the guitar – and composed my Oscar speech like any good American girl.  Time and circumstance put those dreams to bed as age and wisdom took hold, and I became satisfied with the life I was given and fashioned to suit time and place.

What is a big life?  One offering unique stories to tell one after another that elevate a person above all others, one with a bold name that stands out from all the rest? 

Over the past couple of years I have been to the funerals of several well-loved people.  Stuffed into funeral parlors and churches to receive condolences and issue hugs and words of comfort, the people present, those standing in line for hours to say goodbye for the last time – they were all part of the lives of those loved and gone.  The numbers of people congregating to pay last respects to the people they loved at these funerals, the stories they told and retold, the memories recalled – all of this painted epic, sweeping portraits of lives lived well, lives lived boldly, lives lived LARGE. 

None of the people we celebrated and mourned lived big lives.  They were parents and grandparents and spouses and cousins and aunts and uncles and friends and siblings and employees.  None had won an Oscar, none had written a novel, and none were rock stars.  They all lived small lives, had maybe only about six months’ worth of stories to tell.

Their names will be mentioned in conversation during my lifetime and new ones will be added.  Eventually mine will join the list.  Small lives take up big space in the minds and hearts of those who love them – this is no secret.  The stories that make up our lives may be long and tedious and they may be few, but they are ours to tell.

I hope you tell yours.



  1. I love this so much. I live a small life and am content. I hope there are some, however, for whom I take up big space in their hearts.

    1. I'm quite sure there are several people who give you a large portion of their hearts.

  2. Love, love, love this. In my first LTYM piece, I talk about that a little, how big moments are obviously defining but the small ones are what really make our lives.

    1. Thanks, Angela. The small moments are the ones that I cling to.

  3. In reaching for more, it would be easy for us to miss what's happening all around us. This reminds me of my grandparents - none of them lived big lives either, but man, the stories they have to tell.

    1. And I'm sure so many people cherish every word that they had to say. It struck me after they were gone that when my grandparents spoke, everyone around them quieted down.