| Family Farce: Purim 5782 |

Family Farce — Lifetakes: Lessons from a Pebble  

As a thinking, thoughtful woman, who realizes there is nothing random in the world, I wasn’t going to allow a pebble to ruin the beauty of my day

ITwas a beautiful day.

The sun was shining and the clouds were — what’s the fancy word for puffy clouds? Billowing? No, clouds can’t billow. But you know what, let’s let them billow, I love that word.

So the clouds were billowing, and the sun shining, and birds chirping, and the sky a cerulean blue (I’m not sure what shade that is either, but it sounds literary). It was one of those days when you felt joyous at the very fact that you existed in this glorious universe, when your heart exploded with happiness and gratitude.

Except that there was a tiny blight on this perfect scene. It was small, very small — a sharp little pebble that had lodged itself inside my left shoe, just between my second and third toe. It hurt.

But as a thinking, thoughtful woman, who realizes there is nothing random in the world, I wasn’t going to allow a pebble to ruin the beauty of my day. In fact, I was going to mine it for inspiration, because inspiration is here, there, and everywhere. You just need to look for it, and seek it, and you’ll find it.

First I thought about how this pebble exemplifies the awesome power of that which seems small. This pebble was really little, the size of those tiny earring backs that are forever getting lost. Wait, that’s not very poetic, let’s try again. It was the size of a tiny egg, if an egg would be the size of an earring back and pointy.

And here was this vast universe with endless sky and crisp air and shining sun — and I couldn’t enjoy any of that wondrousness because a tiny pebble was robbing me of happiness.

If a little badness can ruin so much goodness, just imagine the power we have in the reverse! A single smile, a few words of encouragement, a kind gesture, can brighten up even the most dismal of lives. Or at least that’s what I think the pebble was trying to say.

But there’s more. Because editors are picky and always say that the good lessons I find in my life are cliché. As if the fact that someone else had the same thought I did makes it less meaningful.

So maybe this pebble isn’t about the bad ruining the good — that’s a negative perspective. Maybe it’s about our need to overcome the negativity that seems to be the default state in our self-centered, self-absorbed (that does sound better than self-centered, doesn’t it?) society.

Yes, there’s a pebble in my shoe. And it digs into my foot with every step I take, and oh my gosh, it hurts like crazy! I mean, it causes consistent and increasingly heightened discomfort.

But really, there’s a gorgeous world all around me. And the fact that a pebble hurts with every step means that I can walk! And I have shoes! And I have somewhere to go (work, if you want to know the truth, and I’m actually not all that excited to go there ’cuz I have four meetings lined up today, and I can tell you right now that at least three of them will be a colossal waste of time, and should have been restructured according to the very helpful article I sent HR, the one titled “Why All Meetings Should Be Abolished,” but they just ignored it, which isn’t surprising, because despite the “your problem is our problem” motto they love trumpeting, it’s more like “our problem will always become your problem,” but I digress).

So, as I was saying, I have so much to be grateful for! And the pebble, if viewed poetically, can serve as a reminder of all the things that are going right in my life, rather than the one thing that’s not-so-right. It’s all a matter of perspective!

I’m still mulling this over, wondering if it’s the epiphany that’s clearly needed here, when I get to work. I hobble into the office, and Meira raises an eyebrow in question (she has those really cool eyebrows that you normally only meet in fiction, but she’s real).

“A pebble,” I gasp, “in my shoe.”

“Why don’t you take it out?” she asks.

And just like that, my entire essay vanishes in a puff of editorial smoke. I take the unappreciated pebble out of my shoe and head to my first meeting.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 784)

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