Feeling Small


There’s no shame is feeling small, but it can feel uncomfortable. So many things in life diminish us, making us feel small and insignificant. Losing a job can do it. Being treated poorly in a relationship can do it. Retirement from a successful career can do it. Feeling small just happens sometimes. It helps me to remember this quote from Aeschylus, “From a small seed a mighty trunk may grow.”

I watched a hummingbird outside my kitchen window this morning. He is the smallest of the hummingbirds that come to our feeders. He is a beautiful hummingbird, clothed in green and black iridescent feathers.

Amazingly, hummingbirds flap their wings about 80 times per second, and their heart rate is 1,260 beats per minute. Hummingbirds can fly right, left, up, down, backwards, and even upside down. They are also able to hover by flapping their wings in a figure-8 pattern.

Hummingbirds are among the smallest of birds, most species measuring between three to five inches. In fact, the smallest is the bee hummingbird, which weighs less than a U.S. penny. And yet, the hummingbird makes perhaps the longest migratory journey of any bird in the world. At just over 3 in long, feisty Rufous hummingbirds travel 3,900-miles one-way.

There is a lesson here for those of us who have days when we feel small and insignificant. It’s a common feeling for those of us who once had busy, exciting careers, and now find retirement to be a bit difficult. I have heard some of my friends speak this kind of discontent in various ways . . . “I feel used.” “I feel discarded.” “I feel small.”

I definitely understand feeling small, which is why I love the wisdom of Immanuel Kant who said, “Look closely. The beautiful may be small.”

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