The Value of Mundane Details

A spring evening.

A few months ago I logged out of an online meeting with the realization that I had no idea of the weather report for my colleagues’ locations. I laughed the rest of the day as I shared this odd detail with a few others. It is absolutely true that I can check the weather report for the locations of my colleagues. It is true that the weather they were experiencing did not impact the meeting we were having (there were no storms that day). It is true the sunshine I was experiencing for the first time in weeks changed not a detail of their days, nor had any relevance to the business we were conducting. It is also true that it was odd, bordering on uncomfortable, for me that we did not talk about the weather. As I laughed with others about my seemingly new dedication to weather reports, clarity of my discomfort came.

I know there are lots of jokes, I have even shared a few, about how we revert back to conversation about the weather when we do not know what else to talk about. Yet, the weather is a connection we can all make with each other. It is a starting point for any conversation, we do not have to like the same type of weather, but we can engage in simple conversation that builds a point of contact so the next time we speak to each other we can possibly try another topic. Or if we do not meet again, at least for a moment we connected with another human being, we were each seen and heard.

There are many people I know who are experiencing loneliness, anxiety, depression, grief, confusion, and fear. Sometimes they are unsure how to share what is happening with them. Sometimes they do not want to appear weak, needy, or be an inconvenience. There are many reasons people choose to remain silent in their suffering, no matter how much the rest of us would welcome the opportunity to have them confide in us. Even as we know we cannot fix the pain that person is feeling, we would willingly carry them while they carry their burdens. We are after all created from love and for loving each other.

The weather report might seem like a mundane detail, just like asking what you ate for a meal, or the casual “how’re you doing” as you stand next to someone. These are habits of conversation we fall into, often without real thought. Yet, I think they are good habits to nurture. It matters if we take a moment to greet someone. It matters if we learn their name, remember if they like rainy days, or enjoy the brightness of snow. It matters if we notice when they appear to be carrying a burden, maybe they will not share that burden with us; and maybe if we acknowledge we are together for that moment, we will help them feel a bit more connected to others while they carry that burden.

My discomfort with that online meeting was that I had not made a mundane connection with my colleagues. I did not feel as if I had expressed clearly to them that I care about them, respect them, and am here if ever they need someone to remind them they are loved. My words may be about the weather, yet my intention is about connection, and that is why I love mundane details. That is why I believe they matter to me when it comes to building relationships. I think the collection of mundane details we have for each other build and strengthen our friendships. They are the thousands of little ways we say to each other that you matter enough for me to notice you.

These friendships begin small, with weather reports, and grow each time we share a little more of ourselves. Not all mundane connections will grow into lifelong friendships, but each connection remains an opportunity for us to remind each other of the truth that we are all connected. Maybe if we can continue to make these connections with each other we will eradicate the us vs them mentality that continues to divide us. Maybe if we continue to share our mundane details we will be able to help one more person feel the love that brought all of us into existence. For the realization of that goal, I would gladly remember where you like to sit at a table, what type of weather you prefer, if you are the first to say hi or if you need me to be first, or even if you prefer that I sit in silence next to you while you scroll on your phone, smiling when you turn to me to say hi. It is in these acts of noticing each other that I believe some day we will all recognize how much love there is in this world, and spend our time sharing that love until all the world is at peace.