Zia Hassan

Small Pieces

Whenever my son eats part of our meal, we cut it up into small pieces so he can use the very few teeth he has to chew the food properly without choking.

And when I was a teacher, I tried to teach lessons that covered a tiny aspect of one skill. Doing word problems that used two or more operations (like addition and multiplication) was a skill that was spread out over five lessons or so. And the first lesson didn’t involve any math at all – the students simply had to identify what operations they’d need to use to solve a problem. I did this for the same reason that I break up food for my son: it’s easier to chew and digest if the pieces are smaller.

To get the most flavor out of your coffee, you need to grind the beans into tiny little pieces. The exposed surface area leads to stronger flavors.

We know this about food and learning. But I feel that this framework is largely ignored when it comes to the idea of moments.

Moments can be broken up into small pieces too, especially if you get easily overwhelmed. I’m someone who can easily feel “taken” by moments in such a way that I need to take them in small moments.

There are a few ways to do this. Sometimes, I separate the senses. Maybe I’ll close my eyes occasionally and just listen. Or I’ll touch something in the room as an anchor.

Other times, like in intense conversations, I just have to take it word by word. If I let the words come in too quickly they can bunch up and cause friction in my mind. In beautiful sermons, I’ll sometimes grab on to one word and relish it as it vibrates my ear drum.

The experience of a storm happens drop by drop.