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 ask, “Who dares despise the day of small things?”

This post was originally published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Good morning, Julia!
    This is one of those times when your words could serve as the quote, “cumulative tiny actions can achieve impressive results.”
    Interesting shift in emphasis between “no trifle” and “impressive results.”
    Both statements are true.

    • Thank you, Susan. Let’s hope the cumulative actions of face masks and hand washing and social distance add up to the defeat of this current invisible enemy!

  2. Susan

    That’s a very encouraging thought, Julia, about how all the little tasks add up to a positive body of work! Thank you!

    Another version of beadwork and similar works of beauty is on the “Say Yes to the Dress” shows, where you can see close-ups of beading, sequins, and glittery “bling” on the gorgeous wedding gowns 🙂 .

    • Susan, my older brother’s wife made her own wedding gown, and the front of it was a panel she crocheted herself (in very fine thread). I can remember her stitching tiny seed pearls through out the finished panel. It was gorgeous and all the more impressive for having been hand made by the bride! Bead work fascinates me but the closest I come is stringing necklaces, which I love to do.

Thanks for encouraging others by sharing your thoughts:

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