The Small Stuff
Sally Cannon, Division 2, 12th grade #ws17e-s1d2

As a thinker, I believe in the little things. Even though details are rarely something a person claims to believe in, we all notice them. The scent of your grandma’s kitchen as a child or the way your dog used to come running down the stairs to greet you when you came home from work; details are all around us and we remember them more than we think. The little things in life influence us all to be the people we are, and as a thinker I’m curious about the details in things. I believe that they can add so much meaning to what they’re a part of. They make our stories feel real and relatable, and I believe that the little things matter a lot more than they’re given credit for.

I love reading when I have the time to, anything from the Harry Potter series to classics like Pride and Prejudice. One book that captivated me was Slaughterhouse Five. Ready to leave the bookstore with my summer reading books last spring, I saw it out of the corner of my eye and had to take a closer look. The title sounded familiar, but when I bought it I had no idea what I was in for. Over the next two days I couldn’t put it down, even though everything about it was as direct and blunt as Kurt Vonnegut slapping me in the face. I’d certainly never read anything like it before. At first the content as well as the disjointed style threw me off, and I didn’t like the book. However, as time went on, Billy Pilgrim’s story grew on me. I can look back now and enjoy the brash stylization I initially hated, and, now that I know how to read Vonnegut better, find myself wanting to read more. Slaughterhouse Five not only opened my eyes to the story of the Dresden firebombing in a personal way, but showed me that not every good book has to be written a certain way. Something as small as Vonnegut’s stylistic method opened a whole new door for me in the world of literature. Even though the book initially bothered me, the purpose with which it was written and the message behind it leaves me curious to read more of what Vonnegut has to offer.

Another example of my “little things matter” philosophy is when I first discovered the song Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin. My sister, ever the music nerd, was listening to it one day and I happened to hear it. She then proceeded to tell me it was great and that I should go listen to the whole 16 minutes and 27 seconds of it on YouTube. When I did it reminded me a lot of the American in Paris Suite we were playing in Carolina Youth Symphony, but the longer I listened the more interesting it got. Between the dynamic contrasts and stylistic changes throughout the piece, I couldn’t help respecting Gershwin’s obvious skill in writing it. There was one part, though, that sealed the deal for me. At the end of one of the phrases there were four chords played in the piano part that, when paired with the melody in the brass, sounded so good it really made the song worth listening to. Even though the song is amazing for many reasons, those four little chords made the difference between listening to the song once and listening to it as my go-to homework background music.

My thoughts on little things mattering stretch beyond my own ideas and into my philosophy on how to treat other people as well. I believe in respecting the little things about people, and that differences in opinion are something to be discussed and celebrated instead of silenced. Each little thing that makes someone an individual is something they shouldn’t have to be afraid of. I believe wholeheartedly in the idea that even if I don’t agree with someone’s opinions on an issue, that I should still respect them as a person. My hopes for the future are an eclectic scramble of scenes I want to live out one day, whether it be graduating from college or seeing the Golden Gate Bridge. As a whole, details fascinate me. Even though the style of Slaughterhouse Five and those four chords in Rhapsody in Blue may seem near insignificant, those little things can have a big influence over their respective whole works. Details matter, and, for me it’s the little things that matter most.
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