G’day! My name is Ethan, (known to friends as “Phippsi) and I am a student in Year 11 this year. Between study and sleeping, I occupy my time with sports, cycling, cooking and the creative arts. I recently had a revelation regarding things that are seemingly trivial or near-pointless in today’s society. Things like, waving to people, smells, balloon tennis and board games. Intrigued? So was I.
I am part of a youth movement known as ‘The Boys Brigade’. It is the world’s oldest uniformed youth movement that began in Glasgow in 1883. One of its (many) objectives, is to foster the leadership potential in their Boys. To do this, they run six separate leadership courses, ranging from two-day long courses, to eight days. During the eight day courses. The Team Leadership students study Servant Leadership by doing community service. In 2015, when I did this, the twenty-odd Boys went to an Aged Care Facility. We were divided into three groups. One for the Intensive Aged Care, another for the Dementia Ward and the third group for the ‘rest’.
I was assigned to the first group. We played a rather large game of ‘Snakes and Ladders’ with the residents. We were each paired up with a resident and played on a board that was big enough to ballroom dance on! As each Boy talked with their partner, we all got a sense of how lonely it got for residents in these kinds of facilities. One of my friends commented afterwards, “Phippsi, they just sit here and fold tissues ‘til they die!”.
While his comment was somewhat exaggerated, he had a point. During our debrief, I realised that something as small as playing a game with someone can make their day. The elderly ladies lit up like proverbial Christmas trees (in July) when we showed up to play games with them. The second group played balloon tennis in the Dementia ward and the residents there joined in too. There were smiles all around. Something as trivial or even ‘childish’ as balloon tennis can make a huge difference.
Some other small things don’t even require a conversation or game. A courteous cyclist’s wave can make all the difference. I ride 10 km every day to get to school. On my route, there is a disabled community, and these people walk to work. I often ride past them and give them a wave and a smile. Their countenance will change and will stand up straighter (if they can) and walk a little faster to work. The same happens about 4 minutes afterwards. I ride past the mall and a retirement village. When the ‘more matured’ people walk to the mall I give them a wave and smile, and the same thing happens.
One incident I will never forget is when I saw an Indigenous man walking to work. He had his bottom lip out, slouching and grumbling about something. I waved and said “Good morning!” He looked up, saw me, waved and literally skipped all the way to the mall from where I saw him, about 1 km. I decided to follow him at a distance to see the effect of my wave. And my making of his day made my day!
One more thing that people seriously take for granted is their five senses. I was born with a cleft-palate, and thus have a crooked nose. Because of this, for the past sixteen years, I have been unable to smell. That is, until my orthodontic treatment began and my palate was pushed apart using an expander. After about a month of this treatment, I could smell things. I ran around madly, smelling things and everyone thought I was crazy! Once they learnt of my previous inability to smell, they gained a further appreciation of things they have that others may not.
So, while some things are trivial to us, are they really that trivial to others? That simple wave could save a life, make someone feel appreciated or inspire them to do something for others. The experience of being listened to can make someone feel loved and acknowledged. So, are simple things trivial or crucial?
Note from Kerrie (aka Mum)
If you loved this and found it insightful as I did, please share!
And I’d also love to invite you send Ethan a note via our Contact page cheer on this budding writer and Difference-Maker.
Have a great week, appreciating the little things, and making someone’s day. It matters. You matter. They do too.
Cheering you on,