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The Little Things - Patricia Cannon

Now, I am more cognizant and appreciative of what is commonly coined the “little things” in life because they don’t seem to be so little anymore. Actually, some of these little things, I have come to realize are the invisible cords that bind us to one another as human beings. Pulling down my mask briefly while outside walking to smile at a neighbor from a distance and they responding is like giving and receiving a gift. It reminds me of something I read in a sociology textbook: smiling is the “universal language for kindness.” And I did feel happy to “speak” this language even if only momentarily!

I recall a time when I passed an acquaintance while I was walking downtown. His face was blank like the "flat affect" I would later see in some stroke patients. I wondered if he noticed me. But I smiled and although he seemed startled, he smiled back. His face lit up, if only briefly. Sadly, I learned later that he had taken his own life.

Small acts of kindness may or may not pull someone away from the abyss of despair, but at least we can try. Perhaps for some people a small gesture of kindness may help them take a few steps back from some dark precipice and rethink their direction. What we may consider a "little thing" may relieve a person's burden and briefly light up their life like luminaries that brighten the sky.


Patricia Cannon has been a Registered Nurse at UCSF since 2001. She has worked in cardiac critical care, neuro intensive care, hemeoncology, school nursing, and currently, in research. In the early days of the pandemic, she was redeployed to the CATCH team which stands for the Covid, Assessment, Treatment, Coordination Hub. This pilot was launched to help patients get much needed procedures and surgeries. Her passion is her faith, photography, and the written word in all its forms. Her poetry has appeared in several magazines and books. Little Things was first published in Passagers Journal.

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