I was practicing Kung Fu with my friend Evan one day, working on one of the opening moves in our Xing Yi form. He was testing my structure, and I was just not getting it.
He’d push, I’d collapse.
I’d reset, adjust my hips, and he’d push, I’d collapse.
Reset yet again, tweak the position of the arms, he’d push, no dice.
And so it went, over and over, for several minutes.
I was mostly calm about it, remaining present to the moment and letting go of frustration when it arose. Yet that was not helping my structure at all. No matter what I tried to correct, the same result would occur: push, collapse.
Evan took a step back and looked at me as I held the pose once again. After a moment, he said, “Your thumb is out of place.”
My left thumb, tucked under my right hand, was splayed outward by about an inch.
I chuckled, folded my thumb back into position, and said “Heh, so it was. But it can’t be the thumb….”
Mid sentence, he pushed. I held.
“It’s the thumb. It’s the !@#$% thumb. I can’t believe it. It’s the !@#$% &*(@ *&@#$%) thumb!”
To which I proceeded to repeat “It’s the !@#$% thumb!” off and on for the next half hour as we continued to test and as my solidity continued to hold.
Sometimes, the smallest of fine-tuning can have the greatest of impacts.
In ways that are rarely or readily obvious.
We may ignore the little things in our lives, thinking they aren’t worth our attention or time.
We may avoid dealing with something that’s been hanging in our mental or spiritual space, thinking there are greater things we should deal with or work on first.
We may discount certain conversations or getting clarification or apologizing for something or seeking apology for something, thinking they are petty and minor.
We may distain from our little pleasures, or passions, or interests, thinking they are of secondary importance compared to the real, serious, bits of our lives like our jobs or our bank account.*
We may pass over assisting others and lending support, or participating in something, because what could we do, really? Especially compared to others who have more time, money, knowledge, connections, education, etc…
We pass on, overlook, pooh-pooh, and pay attention to the big bits.
Yet – and this is a big yet – even that smallest bit can cause a profound shift in our lives and the lives of others, profound shifts that open up whole new realms of freedom, performance, and possibility.
Shifts we wouldn’t have seen or guessed before we took the seemingly small action.
In life we have many choices of where to aim ourselves and what to spend our precious time on, and it can become all too easy to become fixated on the large, shining, glamorous, prestigious, important, proper, worthy, momentous…
But there’s an opportunity in letting go of these rigid assessments to engage with all areas of our lives and the lives of those around us. Within there we may find fourteen things that we can do, that we can take on, that we can transform, or that we can contribute towards, that will quickly lead us towards joy, relatedness, and peace of mind. Little tweaks that will align our lives and give all of us what we want.
It really pays to remember the thumb.
* Or worse, we pretend they are beneath us to fit in with everyone else…