Once upon a time…
Flapping wildly in the wind, the banner threatened to free itself from the flimsy poles holding it in place. ‘Welcome to the ANNUAL WORM FARMERS CONVENTION’ it proclaimed in muddy brown text, though ‘WORM’ was composed of squiggly letters, some of which had eyes. Lucinda opened her notebook, adding an item to her ever-growing list, Q: Do worms have eyes?
Snapping the notebook shut, she noted the battery level on her voice recorder showed three-quarters full. Adjusting the name tag dangling from the lanyard looped around her neck, Lucy lifted her chin and threw her shoulders back as she entered the gate. At the entrance, a woman in her mid-fifties sat behind a folding table with a sign that read, “Gift Shop & Info Desk.”
Clocking her name tag, Lucy smiled, “Good Morning Maggie. My name is Lucinda Davis and I am writing a local interest story for my high school paper. About the convention. About worm farming.”
“Well, you’re in the right place,” Maggie said brightly, “How can I help you?”
“If you could give me the program for the day, then I could-”
“Program?” Maggie laughed. “The program is that you can have a look around when the stalls are set up.” Glancing at the white canvas tents lining the left side of the lot. “Yep, they should be ready soon.”
“I guess that makes me the early bird,” Lucy joked. “The early bird catches the worm.”
“Now, Miss Davis, you know – about the worms?”
“What about them?”
In one swift movement, Maggie smashed a fly to the table with her hand. “Gotcha, ya little bugger!” she crooned as she wiped her hand on the front of her coat, leaving little flecks of fly blood and guts. “He’s been hanging around all bloody morning.”
“Uh, what was that about the worms?” Lucy swallowed hard, doing her best not to dry wretch.
“They say the early bird catches the worm. But what about from the worm’s point of view? Maybe we should be saying, ‘The early worm gets killed.’ Don’t be an early worm or you’ll get murdered and eaten.”
Lucy pondered for a moment and Maggie announced, “The Earworms are on later.”
Grinning at the baffled girl in front of her, Maggie elaborated, “The Earworms are a music band made up of some of the farmers. They are actually pretty good. There’s a harmonica player, a drummer, and a couple of guitars. Zeb might even get up and play the kazoo. Ah, you know it’s the little things” she said wistfully. “Small is the new big.”
“You look like a bit of a bookworm,” Maggie said, reaching under the table. Squinting to read the title. “Nah, not that one,” she said as she retrieved another. “This one!” she said, handing it over.
It was a slim book, maybe 300 pages. Lucy noted the bold title, ‘THE FORMATION OF VEGETABLE MOULD THROUGH THE ACTION OF WORMS’ supplemented with smaller text below, ‘With Observations on Their Habits.’
“Ah, um, very intriguing,” turning the book over in her hands, attempting to feign interest.
“That book there was actually Darwin’s bestseller. It sold more copies than the Origin of Species. Big doors swing on small hinges, so it’s important to get the hinges right. It’s the same with soil, my dear. Did you know that worm farming is also called vermiculture? A sturdy bin with a lid, some moist bedding material and worms are all that you need to start your own farm. They don’t take up much space. Hungry worms make quick work of leftover food scraps, transforming them into fabulous, nutrient-dense fertiliser. It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”
Lucy made a note: Vermiculture.
“Oh, and we have gummy worms too!” Maggie exclaimed gleefully, placing a large glass jar full of worms on the table. “You want some? They’re free.” Taking off the lid, Maggie reached her fly-smashing hand into the jar, grabbing a large handful. “Whoops, I grabbed too many, can’t get my hand out,” she laughed.
Her outstretched hand offered up the multicoloured gummy worms. Hastily searching for some excuse not to take them, Lucy blurted out “Oh, thanks, but I’m off the sugar.”
Maggie eyed Lucy suspiciously, saying nothing, instead stuffing a couple of worms into her mouth.
“Guess what I’m doing?,” she said, making an overly exaggerated chewing motion while looking down at her watch.
“Eating a gummy worm?”
“I’m waiting with baited breath,” she cackled, spewing a segment of worm on the table.
“Ha, yeah, I get it. Bated versus baited. Very funny.”
“There’s something special I’d like to show you” Maggie whispered conspiratorially.
“Oh, that’s very kind of you,” Lucy stammered, desperately trying to think of some way to escape. “But, uh, I really need to-”
“It won’t take a sec,” she winked. “It’ll be worth it.”
Motioning Lucy closer, Maggie’s eyes darted around, checking to see if anyone else was watching. Again she reached under the table. Curious, Lucy leaned in closer, catching a waft of sugary, gummy-worm breath.
“Okay now, you can’t tell anyone about this,” Maggie said.
Lucy nodded in agreement.
Maggie’s hands wrapped around a canister. It was labelled, but Lucy could only see the part unobscured by her hand. It looked like ‘Mixed N…’ Mixed what? Mixed Nuts, maybe?
Tilting the can toward Lucy, she lifted the lid. Something launched out, attacking the budding young journalist’s face. Lucy screamed, trying to bat the creature away. Maggie’s maniacal laughter rang in her ears as she stumbled backward.
The creature landed softly on the table and rolled a little in her direction.
Cautiously, Lucy approached it. It was cylindrical, like the canister it came from, but longer. A speckled brown skin stretched over the coiled ribs. And then she realised it was one of those cheesy joke gifts where a spring-loaded, snake-shaped thing pops out of an innocuous can of food.
“Ah, the can-o-worms trick, it never gets old. Unlike me,” Maggie groaned as she stood to her feet, scrunching the worm back into the can. “Hey Earlybird, you’ve been good company. Why don’t I introduce you to the more interesting folks here; the ones with the really good stories. You know the difference between something ordinary and something extraordinary is often only a small detail.”
“That sounds great,” Lucy opened her notebook and followed Maggie in the direction of the tents.
“But don’t spoil the surprise,” she giggled, tucking the can-o-worms in her voluminous coat pocket.
“My lips are sealed,” Lucy smiled.
“Sometimes, when I consider what tremendous consequences come from small things, I am tempted to think…there are no small things.”
Moral of the Story:
Every moment of every day, we encounter innumerable little things. Yet, despite this, it’s so easy for us to get swept up in the grand scheme of things and forget to pay attention to the small stuff. The unnoticed things are the lifeblood of the world. Real success in self-mastery is not found in waiting for some special occasion to exert ourselves, but in doing the best that can be done in the circumstances of everyday life. Little things are a better test of character than great things. They come every day whereas great things do not. The world turns on small hinges, but for great things, we brace ourselves up and make exceptional efforts. Little things deal with reality without any show; and what we call “little things” are often much greater than what we call the great ones, and therefore have much larger consequences. When we attend to the little things, we need not be so anxious about the greater ones.
To do a small thing well is the best proof of ability to do what is great. Small things direct our life. They are the daily habits repeated, good or bad – here a little, there a little – that become mighty and unconquerable affairs. Great things are made up of little things. The highest mountain of grains of dust. The deepest ocean of drops of water. One year of 31,536,000 seconds. Great things depend on little ones. Small things are also often more dangerous than big things because they can get in through small openings. A small leak may sink a great ship, and a trifling escape of gas, if neglected, may blow up your kitchen. A little outburst of temper. A little provocation. Words and acts out of anger can destroy great relationships. We perish by what is little: a little negligence, a little laziness, a little delay. Small things can have a big impact. The little present is great because its littleness is the parent of the great future. Small decisions, small steps, small gestures, small kindnesses; they are not small.
“You need to let the little things that would ordinarily bore you suddenly thrill you.”
― Andy Warhol
Affirmation: From little things, big things grow.
I am the architect of my life and I build its firm foundation one decision and action at a time. Today, I am brimming with energy and overflowing with joy as I notice all the little things. My body is made up of healthy cells; my mind is made up of brilliant ideas, and my heart is made up of loving waves of emotion. I have been given endless talents which I joyously explore today. I easily forgive those who have harmed me in the past and I choose to peacefully detach from them. A river of compassion washes away my anger and replaces it with love. Details matter. I attend to the small stuff with loving enthusiasm. My greatest accomplishments in life are the cumulative effect of my attention to detail. Giving importance to the little things brings me tiny everyday miracles. I know the littlest things can change my destiny and launch me onto a different path with exciting new opportunities. The littlest things have the greatest powers. No matter how tiny I seem, I know I can lead huge men because I have what the huge men do not have. The more I find wonder in the little things, the more often big things I always expected start to show up.
“One word can end a fight; One hug can start a friendship; One smile can bring Unity; One person can change your entire life!”
― Israelmore Ayivor