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Scaling Up

The year after I graduated from college a friend and I took backpacked through Europe (yes, we were the stereotypical millennials in our early twenties).

We started in London, made our way down to Paris, enjoyed an extended stay in Switzerland where another friend was then living, and wrapped up in Rome. We packed in a lot of experiences, made a lot of memories, and learned a lot of lessons.

I particularly remember visiting the Louvre in Paris. We only had a couple days in the city and so couldn’t spend too much time meandering through the massive art museum.

We really only wanted to see one exhibit.

The Mona Lisa.

It took us thirty minutes or so to make our way from the front of the museum to the giant room dedicated to Da Vinci’s masterpiece. We stopped along the way to admire other paintings and sculptures, but the closer we got to the Mona Lisa, the more excited we got and the more quickly we moved through the other exhibits.

Then, there it was. The Mona Lisa.

We stood there in awe.

But then the awe wore off.

It was enclosed in a huge glass case with armed guards stationed on either side.

I was also struck by how small it was.

I mean, really small.

I don’t know the exact dimensions, but I’m pretty sure I have a coloring page from my niece larger than the Mona Lisa (and personally way more valuable).

Now, don’t get me wrong. The Mona Lisa is a masterpiece and now, looking back ten years later, I wish I’d enjoyed the moment a little more.

But here’s what I thought as we made our way back out to the Paris streets.

So often I think something is a lot bigger than it is. I think something is a lot harder than it is. I think something is more of a problem than it is. I scale it up in my mind.

But then I get up close and it turns out to be much smaller than I imagined.

All of the anticipation – all of the worry, all of the anxiety – was a waste.

I bet I’m not the only one. I bet you’ve experienced that before. I bet you’ve looked back on a situation and realized it wasn’t quite as big as you imagined it would be.

We all have faced and will face our share of truly big problems.

Let’s not scale up the small ones.

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