This time of year typically turns to big things—that family summer vacation, large community events, grand celebrations, etc. This year most of these, if not all, are unlikely to take place. The past few months, however, have highlighted the significance of so many small details that may matter even more: Giving a hug to someone in need, holding an elderly parent’s hand as they lie in a hospital bed, displaying a teddy bear in a window for children passing by to see, hearing clapping and singing from a veranda, eating dinner at a table in an actual restaurant, etc.
What Matters Most
We have quickly learned perhaps what matters most and how creative we can be with what we have within reach. As I walk around my neighborhood- Raleigh Court/Grandin Village, I see some of what I have come to expect: Neighbors talking to neighbors, albeit now a bit further apart; flower gardens blooming; and children playing on sidewalks. But I also now see yards and gardens that seem a bit tidier, fences with a bit of mending, and neighbors lingering in their talks a bit longer. I have seen sidewalk chalk art and fences decorated with drawings of flowers and balloons, alongside the words “stay strong” and “COVID-19 go away.” I have seen signs wishing graduates well and others thanking teachers. I have heard music from guitars, drums, and saxophones played by folks sitting on their front porches, for all who pass by or for none other than the person playing the instrument.
What is remarkable is these small details, these little actions, have been seen worldwide—a reminder of our shared humanity as well as the scope of the current crisis. In Italy, quarantined residents would nightly gather on their verandas to clap thanking health care workers, and then sing their national anthem, a show of strength and solidarity. Brits went to their windows to “Clap for Carers.” In Colorado, every evening at 8 p.m. neighbors step out of their houses and howl together. The Pope walked the empty streets of Vatican City praying along the way. And, of course, lights were lit blue around the world to acknowledge the essential work being performed by so many. All small details with so much meaning.
At some point we all hope to return to some form of normalcy. Though probably a bit different, the big vacations, celebrations, and events will return. Let’s hope we don’t forget how important the porches, front yards, neighbors, hugs, quiet mornings, and the myriad of other small details were during these challenging times.
— Bob Cowell