Lately, I’ve had epic fatigue. Sandwiches are “epic,” sports plays are “epic,” a viral YouTube video is “epic.” There is a mall in America’s heartland so big, so huge, so incredibly massive it has its own zip code (guessing, assuming). It’s large enough to fit SEVEN Yankee Stadiums inside of it and includes an indoor theme park complete with roller coasters. Apparently we need this. It makes us feel powerful, formidable, consequential that even our coffee drinks have swagger.
I’ve become desensitized to a lot of the largess crowding us daily because it’s so much a part of both our visual lexicon and our national consciousness. I live in a great city with its share of retail that climbs three and four stories high, with massive bridges, and with public art designed to float above the city skyline (now that is truly epic). So it was an otherwise innocuous post on my Instagram feed that made me pause.
The post was from someone who often shares aspirational content like those lovely, artsy graphic images meant to encourage you to “start the journey” or “show up with 100%,” which on paper feels completely reasonable, doable even. Living those isms is something else entirely and usually requires less charming poster art and more raw will.
The post was meant to be a half-time, get in the game type energy booster with phrases like LEAP WITH ALL YOUR HEART, DON’T SETTLE FOR SETTLING, and DREAM PASSIONS BIGGER THAN THE UNIVERSE. Pressure, much? What if my passions fit right here in my side pocket? What if I prefer to amble instead of leap? Do I still count if I’m not to scale?
There’s a lot that gets left out when you chase life on the wide screen.
A couple of years ago I got a macro lens for my camera. I love it. It owns me. The focusing is a challenge, almost an exercise in Zen breathing. The pay-off is totally worth it: the veins of a leaf track like little highways, the yellow lip of a mug curves into an entire shoreline, a bee’s legs spin, mining gold dust. Extraordinary. Small is mighty.
Sometimes small is all we have to give. Some days a smile is our most precious and valuable commodity. Sometimes the sun on our face is the razor thin membrane between defeat and another brave step forward. Some epic experiences unfold over a cup of coffee and delicious silence.
There is beauty in the big. There is power and awesomeness in what is sweeping and vast like the oceans, the night sky, or a thousand miles of desert. I looked into the maw of the Grand Canyon last winter and was appropriately dwarfed by its unhinged majesty and that feeling did not suck at all. Big is great and has its time and place, small ain’t so bad either and can be every bit the game-changer.
I’m not that interested in the “go big or go home” mindset that seems to drive the herd these days. Honestly, I’m tired just thinking about the work involved in casting such a long shadow and I don’t know that it will serve the world better if I aspire to live as large as a super sharknadotsunami.
Someone has to carry the pebble. Someone has to be the ripple, the ray, the breath that makes the mountain shiver.