I pull out the splinter
but a small piece remains
in the little finger of
my left hand.
For two days my left thumb
worries it and my buzzing
mind keeps returning to it.
O let me today give
as much attention to the
important things and
let me never dismiss
the small things
as unimportant.


Photo of the author’s left hand, with a splinter fragment in the smallest finger.

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Comments from readers

Craig wrote:
I remember reading about an experiment done on cats. The cat’s neurosystem is wired to monitor brain activity and a mouse is introduced into the cat’s cage. Most of the readouts on the monitor immediately drop as a few other readouts of the cat’s nervous system spike, focusing on dinner. The mind, in prioritizing and processing inputs, basically ignores a whole array of downstream impulses. When I first heard about this, I took it as an example of how little of the brain we really use, and how sad it was that we ignore so much of our world to focus on areas that, in reality, we are trained to focus on. It was saddening. Later, I rethought it, and saw how, given the flood of sensory and mental impressions that the mind is called on to manage, it is to our evolutionary benefit to be able to ignore some things, while paying very close attention to others.

Julie wrote:
No detail is too small -- each one contributes in some way to how we live our lives every day. Each thing, even the remnants of a sliver, stops us for a moment, gives us pause to think, and leaves its mark upon us or within us. This photo almost doesn't look like a hand, and I find it intriguing.

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