Trivialities – The Staff of Life

“People blame one for dwelling on trivialities,
but life is made up of them.”

Reading, “What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their Stories,” I came across this line and paused. How true. How beautifully, hideously true.

Some days the trivial stuff is the best stuff. What to eat for dinner. Picking up crisp drycleaning. Taking warm sheets out of the dryer. These little things can spark joy amidst the hardest, longest days.

I have entire friendships built largely around trivialities. One of my dearest friends and I can spend an entire dinner discussing how to get to and from the airport for a trip – that only one of us is taking. I call another girlfriend, who lives across the pond, no less, to tell her about the great deal I got on orange juice, or to run through the pros and cons of running in the morning versus at night. We use these little things as the building blocks for the bigger stuff. We segue way from a debate over laundry detergent to a conversation on gender equality and whether we’re satisfied with the distribution of “life admin” in our marriages.

Trivialities can be the ties that bind us, but how we handle them also makes us unique. Everyone endures trivialities and is governed by them in some way. Like commercial airlines and the morgue, they’re the great equalizer.

But they can distinguish us, too. I take pride in managing the trivial stuff obsessively, perfectly. Picture it: you arrive home from the airport without a hitch, walk into a house redolent of a crock pot roast, empty your suitcase directly into the wash and – after dinner – get into clean sheets. This is the kind of victory over trivialities that I strive to achieve.

I look at other people and some of them stand out to me because these little things never even appear on their radar. They sail through life comfortable that these things will sort themselves out as they should. Other people think about the small things, but decide they should worry about the bigger stuff. Some people do things like wear the same outfit every day, believing in the Steve Jobs “decision fatigue” conceit. How people address, ignore, or complete the trivial tasks of life says a lot about them. Based on my close female friends, it indicates how likely we are to get along.

Do I fixate on these little things because they give me joy? Or do I fixate on them because they fill my time and allow me to ignore the bigger, harder, tougher questions?

I don’t know. But the dishwasher just beeped and I know I’ve got to empty it before I go to bed.


Alicia Amling View All →

Recovering journalist who discovered a life outside of news leaves you time for things like getting angry, cooking and traveling. Plus, hopefully, writing. I’m a wife, dog mom and Washingtonian.

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