Friday, January 17, 2014

The Best Thing Ever

Humanity has a penchant for exaggeration.

For proof of this statement, look no farther than our everyday conversation. “Did you see so and so? It was the best thing ever.” This is particularly true of internet conversation, and I'd have enough money to pay off the debt of the United States if I had a dollar every time it was said in connection to a fandom.

Is it a good habit? Is it a bad one? Or is it neutral?

Most people would shrug their shoulders and say it doesn't really matter. A few might say that it cheapens really good things and makes the person sound melodramatic and insipid. After all, if a good catch in a game of football is the best thing ever, what about the things that really are the best things ever? How do you describe them?

Both positions have merit. However, I'm going to take a position opposite to both of them. I believe in “the best thing ever”, and the reason is simple.

If a small thing is treated like a big thing, then the big things are not cheapened; in contrast, the big things become so much bigger. As Chesterton put it so well, “...the grass is an everlasting forest, with dragons for denizens; the stones of the road are as incredible mountains piled one upon the other; the dandelions are like gigantic bonfire illuminating the lands around...These are the visions of him who, like the child in the fairy tales, is not afraid to become small.”

To say “that was the best thing ever” is not to make smaller the big things, but to make bigger the big things. To marvel over the chilly sea, as I did this morning, is not to make the Arctic seem warmer, but colder. To admire the soaring height of the weeds across the road is not to make the mountains smaller, but bigger. This why crawling under Christmas trees is a seasonal occupation for children; for a moment, we like to believe that the branches of the tree aren't branches at all, but cosmic steps for some tiny creature, swinging from light to light like Tarzan and shaking the heavy needles from the tree, soaring up this marvelous staircase of branches to touch the stars.

“The best thing ever” does not degrade the ordinary things. It celebrates them. “This flatbread is the best thing ever” puts wonder in the marvelous creation of the bakery. To reserve such praise for high and mighty things takes the fun out of ordinary things; after all, why be happy with a little if you can get a lot? But to say that something is the best thing ever puts enjoyment and contentment and gratefulness into life.

And gratefulness makes life the best thing ever.


  1. I love this insight; I've never thought of things this way before and yet it's so very true.

  2. I completely agree. Except, I've never really been able to put it into words.
    This came at a really good time for me. I was just wondering the other day if I get too excited about things, little things, things that "don't matter." I get ridiculously excited over fandom things. I squee whenever I see a really beautiful piece of photography. I will have little fangirl moments over things like flowers, food, animals, clouds, stars, pens and notebooks. Completely random things. "Unimportant" things.
    And I was just wondering if maybe that was wrong. If maybe I should be less excited about about "little" things, and be more "serious." And now I see that that's wrong.
    So thank you very much for posting this. Because now I realize it's the little things in life, the "unimportant" things that make up the big things, that make life exciting.
    Thank you.

  3. This makes so much sense now. The context was sorely needed.