Growing up you may think of life as a big adventure, a large journey, a towering challenge. You often raise your kids with the same ideas. But really now — when you think about it, so much of life is a matter of just a few inches.
You want proof? The Olympics are often considered the highest test of the human species. Those gold, silver and bronze medals are a treasure shared by only a handful of the planet’s 7 billion people. But now look closer. In competition after competition the difference between winners and also-rans is only a matter of inches. fractions of inches. seconds. fractions of seconds. The same is true in making that first down, getting that kick through the goal posts, reaching home plate just before the throw.
The same is remarkably true of other prizes in life. Take beauty for example. Time and time again what helps explain the startling beauty of a woman or the glory of a man is also a matter of mere inches. Of the nose, the chin, the lips, the chest, the legs. It’s precisely what we pay those high-paid cosmetic surgeons to do — to add or trim just the right fraction of an inch in just the right place. It was wisely said that if Cleopatra’s nose had been an inch longer, Caesar and Rome would not have fallen into romantic ruin. A thought that could surely be applied to women from Ann Boleyn to Mati Hari to Marilyn Monroe to my very own Joan the first time I gazed on her felicitous features on that fragrant June night….
We are told to think big. However. perhaps we should remember to also think small. Small enough to realize how much history — global and personal — has often spun on a dime. Turned on the chance that someone somehow possessed just the right hint of inches or curves or brush strokes or keyboard strokes.
The composer who wrote that little song “Little Things Mean A Lot” won no sexy front covers in Sports Illustrated. But he certainly won my respect for saying a lot with a little.
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