The tiniest grain of sand or a sliver of a twig can make you crazy when it's in your boot. Just one blade of grass stuck to your sock can make you completely unfocused on anything else in the world and completely suck all of your attention to itself.
On the Camino, I have noticed that the little things have a way of really demanding my attention. A small wrinkle in my sock can make me absolutely mad until I stop to fix it. A backpack strap that is maladjusted will cause me to continually wiggle and fidget about in my pack trying to shift weight around and make things right. I have one small knot under the arch of my foot that has caused me so much grief over the last several days...A tiny knot the size of a pea that has caused me to walk funny, to change shoes, to shift my gait and to roll my foot to the outside.
A toenail can make you lose your mind. A seam on the inside of your shirt that is rubbing the wrong way. A runny nose that randomly decides to run while you're walking. A gnat or a fly that continues to buzz around your face. They're all such little things, but they have a way of sucking you dry and occupying your mind with their distraction and bothering ways.
Some little things are important to deal with. The issues with socks and feet are quite important! Healthy feet are vital. Leave a grain of sand or a piece of grass or a wrinkled sock for too long and you will be fighting blisters and injury later. Other little things are just that...little things. They are distractions. They beg for our attention and distract us from our focus.
There is a constant kind of discernment that I face on The Camino every day. Which little things are important, and which ones are not? Which ones should I pay attention to and deal with, and which ones should I learn to let go? I think this is a lesson I need to learn in the rest of my life, as well.
There are other little things that I have found to be very life-giving on The Camino. Listening to a bird on the trail. Flowers along the path. Stopping to chat with a local shop keeper, if only for just a moment. Having someone grab my pack from me at the end of a long day and offer to carry it to my bed for me. A hug from another pilgrim along the way. A husband who bandages my feet. A new friend who makes me laugh. Graffiti that gives encouragement and spurs me forward. A message from a friend back home with words of encouragement. The prayers of my good friend in Antequera, written out in advance and lovingly bundled in my pack for daily reading. A big smile from a pilgrim albergue host when they see our residency card and they say, "Ah! You live here in Spain!"
It's the little things.