B is for Brobdingnagian

Brobdingnagian: adjective; come to describe anything of colossal size.

When you’re faced with writer’s block, writing about anything feels like a brobdingnagian task. That’s a million dollar word for you. It’s terribly ostentatious and speaks largely to a person’s knowledge of literature (or supposed knowledge–it’s a term that comes from Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, which I have not read.)

Writing about writing helps. But eventually one has to branch out past one’s inhibitions and begin writing again about the things that matter in a person’s life. What matters in a person’s life? Itemizing can feel like a brobdingnagian task, too.

The act of creating something takes effort. Not monumental effort, mind you, just small, everyday effort. It all builds up to a wonderful crescendo as time passes and you can see what notes you have lain down to get there. Slowly, surely, one step at a time. A life’s work does not come out of you all at once. That’s why it’s called a life’s work.

I have to be mindful of that. So many times I have robbed myself of the joys in creating something because I’m too impatient, too interested in having instant gratification. We’re all like that to a certain extent. Why else would smartphones exist? But when you take the time and effort to build something over time you will be infinitely more satisfied with what you have created rather than what took less time to make.

My father was a woodworker. He exemplified that belief that it doesn’t take brobdingnagian effort to create something. Slowly he built up his own workshop and through time built lovely things for the whole family, as well as friends and people in the communities that he lived in. I see it in my sister who’s garden flourished this year. Her green thumb gets greener each year as she learns about what works and doesn’t work in her patch through trial and error. I see it in my boyfriend who makes each meal a challenge for himself to create something complex and flavourful rather than the same old boring meal time and again. He’s built our pantry into a spice haven.

All this to say that life is about the small things, not the big ones. We all face colossal moments, but they aren’t the only ones that define us. It’s the smaller tasks that we enjoy and master that define us in the end.

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