I ran into a Chinese saying that seems to fit a lot of my experiences. I don’t think it’s a commonly used one, but it’s “Hao li qian li” (毫 釐 千 里) which can be interpreted as, “A hair’s width, a thousand miles.” The meaning is that a microscopic change in course can eventually lead to a huge difference in the destination reached.
I’ve seen this so often in my life. Forget one little thing, overlook one tiny detail when I knew better or was prompted to attend to, and it can lead to a cascading chain of events that causes great frustration later. In trying to understand the workings of the Spirit, I’ve seen over and over again then when I’ve ignored a distinct prompting, overriding it with my own logic (“there’s no need to leave now” or “no, I don’t need to bring that on this journey” or “no need to call – I’m sure everything will be fine”), I often end up seeing later why that prompting was so important. And when I’ve listened and dropped my selfish resistance, I’ve often been amazed to see how the small difference made at the beginning of a series of events led to a huge difference in the end. In many cases, the difference between a life-changing moment for me, or a new opportunity that I never would have imagined, can be traced back to taking a moment to pray and making a minor change in course as a result.
Selfishness, vanity, greed, anger, and related vices inevitably leave me in a place where I regret the path and the destination, but when I work to suppress those mortal tendencies and try to follow the promptings of the Spirit and the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I can see how small things work together for good, bringing me along a better path with fewer regrets and greater joy.