How I Met Your Mother: The Little Things

Yesterday I had a conversation with a very dear but very misguided friend about How I Met Your Mother. It went something like this.

Me: *tells some story about two people who start randomly dating each other*
Friend: Wow. Maybe if it weren’t for this small detail about the guy, he and the girl wouldn’t be together at all.
Me: Cool, right? You really should watch How I Met Your Mother. That show is all about tiny things having huge outcomes.
Friend: No way. But if you love HIMYM so much why don’t you blog about it?

So here I am, blogging about it.

How I Met Your Mother (henceforth referred to as HIMYM) teaches us about love. It teaches us about friendship. It teaches us about fate. But I think my favorite lesson from this show is the one which my friend, although misguided, astutely alluded to. HIMYM teaches us that the little things matter.

Honestly, how often in movies or TV shows do they actually pay attention to the little things in life? HIMYM gives us entire episodes about minuscule, seemingly unimportant happenings that, nevertheless, actually happen in real life, and therefore deserve some attention. Like loving a restaurant and then forgetting what it’s called or where you found it; like having video game tournaments or movie marathons with your best friends; like having a crappy boss or having to get rid of all the stuff you still have from old relationships.

But honoring the little things doesn’t just mean showing the common but unsung stuff that happens to everyone. Sometimes it means taking something little like a high-five and making it legendary. Or recognizing that previously random objects (red cowboy boots, blue french horn, yellow umbrella, ducky tie…) have the potential to really mean something. And sometimes it means taking little patterns of interaction between people and making sense out of them to use as rules for living life (hot-crazy scale, date-time continuum…). All of these incidental trinkets and moments become insanely meaningful for no other reason than because somebody decided that they were worth it.

HIMYM teaches us that life doesn’t have to be a TV show in order to be funny or important. It teaches us that TV should follow life, because life is important; whether it’s the little things or the big things, they all have equal weight in determining the shape that our lives take. HIMYM inspires us to be the kind of people to whom the little things matter, because life is more full that way. And it also teaches us that the little things sometimes aren’t so little at all.

“You see, the universe has a plan and that plan is always in motion. A butterfly flaps its wings, and it starts to rain. It’s a scary thought but it’s also kind of wonderful. All these little parts of the machine, constantly working, making sure that you end up exactly where you’re supposed to be, exactly when you’re supposed to be there. The right place at the right time.”

-Ted Mosby

Isn’t that an incredible thing? You don’t always have to be making big moves. You just have to be doing something. Something that makes your life fuller and better and more worth living. And by doing that something you’re making a difference to someone else somewhere else through something else. Or maybe you’re making a difference for yourself. In other words, that little thing that you did mattered. Whether it was walking your dog or practicing a new language or writing a blog, if you did something today, today you mattered. Today, the world changed because you were in it.

That’s what HIMYM teaches us, and I’ll take it.

Until next time.

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