In even the smallest matter

Detail of a bead art picture in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 2004

Detail of a bead art picture in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 2004

“Be satisfied with success in even the smallest matter, and think that even such a result is no trifle.”Marcus Aurelius

If you’ve ever been to Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara or certain other well-known Mexican cities, you probably have seen the beautiful artwork created with tiny seed beads or yarn in the tradition of the Huichol people.  With painstaking exactitude they create brilliantly colored items with complex designs that delight the eye and intrigue the mind. In many shops, tourists can watch the artists at work and marvel at the patience and care with which they produce unique treasures.

While I love the yarn paintings, I am most fascinated by the intricate beadwork.  Those of us who have reached “a certain age” might find it difficult to even see the tiny beads, let alone place them one by one with delicate precision until a large work is finished.  But the artists handle their miniscule materials with practiced expertise.  They remain focused intently on their designs, apparently not distracted by the tourists streaming past to observe works in progress. The finished art collections display convincing evidence that cumulative tiny actions can achieve impressive results.

For the most part, our days are made up of small, seemingly insignificant actions that we scarcely note.   With practiced habit we keep house, tend children or execute countless tasks that make up our paid or unpaid vocations.  It can be easy to feel unimportant when most of what we do garners little notice or admiration, but we are building a lifetime of accomplishment, the ultimate results of which we likely will never see.  As the words of Zechariah 4:10 asks, “Who dares despise the day of small things?”

18 Comments

  1. I have Thoughts of Marcus Aurelius in my kindle, (a free download from Amazon or Gutenberg) and I was amazed at how modern he sounded. Thanks for the reminder to continue reading his work.

    • You’re welcome! I have a couple of quotes on this site from him, and will probably have more in the future. Very concise and a lot to think about. Thanks for visiting!

  2. “most of what we do garners little notice or admiration” – this thought disturbs me often. I do almost all the household chores myself and I often feel depressed that the hard work goes unnoticed and unappreciated. But then I realize how my mother struggled. I feel grateful for what she did for us.

    • Bindu, my heart goes out to you with this situation as I have often felt the same way myself. Our mothers and grandmothers were probably even more burdened with tasks, although I think we have additional expectations on us due to the many “advances” which seem to only increase what we feel responsible for. I am very grateful for the women of generations before us who worked so hard with few of the opportunities we enjoy, and most of the ones I knew never complained that I can remember. I tend to complain a lot more than I should. At some point I realized that most of what I do is the sort of thing that no one will notice unless it goes undone, at which time there will be complaints. That’s a difficult situation to live with but probably most people, male and female, have similar experiences. That’s why I think it is so important for us to encourage each other. I salute you and all the people in the world who continue to keep things going despite getting very little recognition. I believe that God sees what we do and honors our work, and this encourages me. A couple of years ago a friend sent me this video which has been a great help to me. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Thanks for being here! You are an encouragement to me. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YU0aNAHXP0

      • Wow! Loved that video. Thanks a lot for sharing. Sharing it on FB.
        Found this quote interesting: The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit. ~Nelson Henderson
        I had an interesting experience today. Shall (wish to) make it a small post. Thanks for the inspiration.

        • Thanks Bindu, I will look forward to your post! The video is encouraging to me because there are so many of us who don’t realize the importance of what we do each day. I remember being influence by so many people who probably had no idea of the impression they were making on me. Keep up the good work, and thanks so much for being here!

  3. I love how you express yourself – the words and phrases you choose, etc. This sentence in particular jumped out at me: With painstaking exactitude they create brilliantly colored items with complex designs that delight the eye and intrigue the mind.
    Excellent writing! You inspire me to reach further, try harder, learn more!

    • Barb, what a lovely thing to say! You have helped me so much with writing, in so many ways – I’m honored to have your compliments! Thanks so much for being here.

  4. Sheila

    Julia, I have thought of Jeff, and of you, knowing you have decisions to make. My prayer this morning was for God to be with you in this time of seeking the right choices, and never second guess if it was right. HE will show you his plan and it will be good. I think of you, also, many times in a day. Thank you for coming into my life! Sheila

    • Hi Sheila, thanks so much, we need lots of prayers for decision making, where both Matt AND Jeff are concerned (Matt is finished with his vocational program and we have not yet found a job or day program that fits his needs and preferences). Let’s keep lifting each other up in prayer, it IS helping! Thanks for being here!

      • Sheila

        Never to forget precious Matt! I feel sure when it does happen it will be “just right”!

      • I searched “Matt”, and though the preponderance of the results were in 2016 and 2017, I found this to be among the earliest. Matt had completed a ” vocational program”. How long ago was his schooling/ training channeled in a direction that was classified “vocational”?

        • Not since shortly after he left high school. He had a good job in a group employment situation before we moved to DC during the weekdays, but those are few and far between, and we have been unable to find a suitable one since, not for lack of trying. Most jobs for people with developmental disabilities focus on motor tasks (Matt’s biggest challenge) and have little to nothing to do with reading or memory skills, at which he excels. His developmental profile is so unusual that it’s very hard to find a job that is a good fit.

  5. WOW!! That is beautiful and I for one could not do it!! I am a total klutz so the beads would be everywhere. I am sure I would spend more time chasing them down than making the design. What beautiful writing too. Like Barb that sentence really impressed me. I hope you have a lovely week in every detail. Love ya.

    • Amy, I am Queen Klutz and have a hard enough time just stringing those tiny seed beads. I have spilled them more than once and keep finding the odd stray bead for months afterwards (but I love stringing the beads, it’s sort of pacifying to focus on something simple like that). These guys in Mexico are fun to watch and they don’t seem to mind people staring at what they do. I bought a small beadwork Christmas tree ornament there to remind me of their patience and artistry. Thanks for your good wishes, I plan to go into DC to see the Cherry Blossoms tomorrow and wish you could come! The trees in front of our home here are in full bloom. I’ll try to post a photo on Facebook.

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