It’s always been fascinating to me when something very small makes a big difference – when a note is held just a beat longer and the song is changed.
A week or more ago, on National Public Radio’s “The Story” — which I only hear when I happen to be driving between two and three in the afternoon–an ex-con related how his life was changed by one of those small things. Ray Materson had been sentenced to fifteen years in prison for drug-related thievery. He was deeply depressed and angry at everyone, especially himself. The small thing was a pair of striped socks in the colors of the University of Michigan.
I guess they’d been recently laundered, but when I hear about socks worn by convicts in a California prison, I think of the smell of men’s feet. But Ray Materson thought of his grandmother’s embroidery and his own love of the University of Michigan. He decided to make a letter ‘’M” on his baseball cap, in lieu of not being able to go to the Rose Bowl and watch his team contend. He’d sewn on buttons so he saw no reason he couldn’t embroider.
It was the beginning of a career in art. Each emblem, most of them no larger than 2 ¼ to 2 ¾ inches and with 1200 stitches to the square inch, became more intricate and more extraordinary. Today, he has work in museums and galleries all over the country. His life has been transformed.
Small things can be very wonderful.