A while back I attended a lecture by the CEO and Dean of Medicine at one of our nation's top hospital/medical school. He was talking about the future of medicine. It was fascinating to hear not only what will be coming down the path in the next twenty years but also to hear the history of medical breakthrough. According to him, the average lifespan for the first 199,000 years of human existence (give or take a couple thousand of years) was about forty-five years of age. In the last 100 years we have seen life expectancy almost double- at least in the "developed" countries. Many things play into that, good public health policies, cleanliness and vaccinations as well as the role of modern technology.
He reiterated how key it is to have basic research. To be researching small, seemingly insignificant findings that develop and lead into larger medical applications. For instance, he spoke of the research in looking at the phosphorescence of jelly fish. It is one of those phenomenas that just happen, that was overlooked as something small and that no one thought about it. One might think that is a waste of National Institutes of Health money exploring these creatures but in essence that green glow from the jelly fish has enabled scientists to track brain functioning which in turn can benefit those people with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other neurological diseases.
Made me think of the little things in life and how important they truly are: Fresh ingredients are key to a healthy meal. Please and thank-you's are the back-bone of manners and civility. Daily sleep and rest are essential to proper mental functioning. Weeding is mandatory for a tame and plant identifiable garden. Learning a little information over a sustained period of time is better retained than through an intense cramming session. Watching the ball upon contact with the racquet is essential in getting the ball over the net.
What about you? Have you noticed the little things in your life? Are they necessary? Or do you find them insignificant? What small steps can you develop in your life that might benefit you in the long run? Getting out of your chair for 5 minutes every 90 minutes of sitting? Reducing your dessert intake by one a week? Smiling and saying hello to your neighbor? Reading a verse in the Bible every day? Holding the door for a stranger? Playing a game with a child?
There is an old nursery rhyme attributed to Benjamin Franklin who included it in his Poor Richard's Almanac. The earliest known written version of the rhyme is in John Gower's "Confesio Amantis" dated approximately 1390. It speaks to the consequence of not paying attention to the little things. In essence, life is all about the little things.
For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.