This week, I wish to remember how small I am in this world, because I am sick of feeling big.
Some of life’s most profound moments make us feel small. Standing next to a mountain. Hearing a friend you love has cancer. Looking at the sunset. The gratitude of bread on the table. Watching a new flower slowly unfurl and turn itself towards the sun.
Feeling small is a healthy reaction to our universal landscape. And yet, our society tells us we are big. Our big decisions govern our lives, and the lives of others. Our big aspirations give us bigger houses, big cars, big salaries, big holidays. We hear big opinions, watch big sentiment, hear big ideas.
Visually, we are captivated by bigness: we fill TV screens, we elevate models on catwalks so they appear bigger than us, we project musicians onto big screens at festivals, we read big headlines and see big billboards. The ancients built big buildings to feel small; we build big buildings to feel bigger.
Emotionally, we are told that our feelings are paramount. Feel-good is the way forward – the bigger the feeling the better. Fear of missing out is a fear of not joining in big fun.
Systemically, we express our bigness by putting ourselves at the centre of our world – in shops, at work, at play. Our social media makes a big platform for our lives; and the bigger your connections, the better.
We elect big-thinking politicians. Donald Trump is the archetypal big man. Big money, big bluff, big bluster, big swagger, big fear. But he is symptomatic of an electorate that either thinks itself big or aspires to bigness.
And yet, you cannot touch a human heart with big. Hearts can be afflicted and oppressed with big, but you can only truly touch a heart with small.
It’s that smallness that is ruddered by authenticity, intimacy, honesty. A smallness that recognises humility, empathy, solidarity.
The art of smallness is the art of life – as my friend, Ricardo Marques, Portuguese poet and intellectual, reminded me this evening.
And that’s a little treasure.