1. Adj.: Describing a person born between 1 Jan. 1946 and 31 Dec. 1964
2. Adj.: Description of a person, place or thing possessing Baby Boomer je ne sais quoi
3. See also, Boomer, Esq.: A Baby Boomer who is also a licensed attorney (See, e.g., About).

In the Grand Scheme of Things

by Suzanne Fluhr on December 27, 2014 · 59 comments

Honolulu hawaii Hibiscus

The English language is particularly rich in idioms. One I find myself using more often as I pass one milestone birthday after another (most recently the Big 6-Oh), is “the grand scheme of things”. It is difficult to define “the grand scheme of things” precisely. What we learn is that certain things are more or less important in “the grand scheme of things”. Thus, “the grand scheme of things” seems to exist only if there is something with which to compare it.

 Cathedral, Vienna, Vien, Austria.

Dome of Saint Paul’s Cathedral, Vienna, Austria. We often remind ourselves of our insignificance in “the grand scheme of things” in ecclesiastical architecture.

“The grand scheme of things” appears to be a sliding scale.  Earlier this year, we lost my seemingly immensely healthy 50 year old brother-in-law to a completely unanticipated cardiac event. Since then, nothing has seemed that important, “in the grand scheme of things”. Lost your keys? Get a grip, it’s not that important in the grand scheme of things. Annoying, to be sure, and, you really should be more careful, but I can guarantee you that the earth will not stop spinning on its axis because you lost your keys. During the American football season, one example evident most Sundays in our household is that the prevailing mood is happy or sad depending on the success or failure of the Philadelphia Eagles football team, out of all proportion in “the grand scheme of things”.

A thing’s importance “in the grand scheme of things” changes with age and experience. It is difficult to truly appreciate another person’s “grand scheme of things”. After your first teenage love decides you really should be just friends, you can only be incredulous at your  parents’ assurance that someday, in the grand scheme of things, you will look back on your excruciating emotional pain with relief and maybe even with a “what was I thinking?” forehead slap.

Honolulu hawaii Hibiscus

The perfection of a hibiscus after the rain can lend perspective.

Was the co-worker who annoyed you yesterday by handing in a late report just diagnosed with pancreatic cancer? In the grand scheme of things, the late report will pale in comparison to the momentous awfulness of your co-worker’s diagnosis. Your euphoria at just landing your dream job would be seriously undermined, in the grand scheme of things,  if your spouse were gravely injured in a car accident that week.

Calibrating our space in the “grand scheme of things” seems inescapable for healthy human beings. Indeed, not to have a fairly well developed sense of “the grand scheme” probably pushes an individual over the line into mental pathology. If you have the same sense of crushing loss if you miss the bus as you experience if a loved one dies, clearly some neurons are not firing correctly. On the other hand, if the “grand scheme of things” is omnipresent in your life, chances are you face a descent into an unsustainable nihilism.

Life lesson: it’s best to keep “the grand scheme of things” in perspective — in the grand scheme of things 😉 .

Where do you fit in the grand scheme of things?

{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru December 27, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Hi Suzanne – you’re so right. Sometimes I wish it wouldn’t have to take a shocking event to change our perception, but for the most part, they have been the catalyst for meaningful change. Tragedy hás reminded us to live more deeply in each moment, and not delay our dreams for a “someday” that isn’t guaranteed. A lovely reflection to keep in mind for the New Year and whatever may come.


Suzanne Fluhr December 28, 2014 at 10:19 pm

Betsy, having been following along on your blog, I’d say it seems that you seem to have a good handle on where to center your life — in the grand scheme of things. Happy New Year.


Patti December 27, 2014 at 6:56 pm

This is a timely post that resonates with me. A long convoluted story but 3 days before Christmas two police officers knocked on my door (I was home alone) and I knew by their demeanor that something was dreadfully wrong and of course my world started spinning thinking I’d lost Abi. As it turned out it was all a huge misunderstanding and had nothing to do with Abi (my 92-year-old mother had passed away days earlier and the funeral home was ridiculously over zealous in obtaining my signature and sent the police to my door). In the grand scheme of things, life is precious and the piddly shit things don’t matter a damn. Sometimes we just need a really scary kick in the pants to remind us – or a thoughtful post from a friend.


Suzanne Fluhr December 28, 2014 at 10:17 pm

OMG. You’re lucky you didn’t have a heart attack on the spot and then they’d have to track down Abi. Horrendous. Right. Worse things could happen, but you didn’t need a preview of what the worst would look like. Did you ask the funeral home why they didn’t try finding you the normal ways first? As a tax payer, I’d wonder about the police department working for the funeral home. Sheesh.


Maddy Resendes December 27, 2014 at 9:12 pm

In the “Great Scheme of Things” my general disorganization is not so grave. In the “Daily Scheme of Things” it derails good intentions, causes high anxiety and, at times, embarrassment, as deadlines for important projects of one kind or another loom near or are too frequently and inappropriately “back-burnered”. (Let’s face it stoves don’t have 20 back burners – usually 2!!) Personal case in point. I have purchased several sets of condolence cards to send to the family when we heard the heartbreaking news of your brother-in-law Bruce’s untimely passing. Several sets because the cards would be purchased, then misplaced. We are not hard-hearted or uncaring – and you will receive a card – but it may be on set number 3 and I will have to save the others (when stumbled upon) for future losses that may come. Maddy signing off, with a perhaps TMI, but full disclosure perspective…..and an unwavering resolution to improve my organizational skills for the New Year!!!!! Even in the Great Scheme of Things, I will be a happier camper, if I do!


Suzanne Fluhr December 28, 2014 at 12:30 am

Mads, in the grand scheme of things, I think the statute of limitations has run on the condolence cards. See. Poof. One less thing to do.


Mike December 28, 2014 at 5:35 am

Wow, what an awesome post with such a nailed-it-on-the-head message, Suzanne. There are so many things we build up into mountains out of molehills (I know, cliché) in our lives that whether it be the next day, week, month or years from now will be quite insignificant, if not completely forgotten. Dealing with generalized anxiety has been a battle for a lot of my adult life yet I was blessed with an amazing self-awareness of myself for knowing what it is truly important and what is not…in the grand scheme of things. I may not be able to feel it physiologically at the time but I can clearly know and express to someone what is real and what is not. I hope that makes sense. Anyhoo, do I go off-kilter sometimes? Absolutely. But, I’ve built up an incredible support group in friends (yourself included in that big time) and an aunt who nudge me back on track should I derail every now and then. I’ve had many blessings…being a rescue worker and first responder, a medic on the street and another career field and it puts a tremendous amount of perspective on life. Helping a woman give birth in flight on a med flight to seeing 70 people die in a plane crash first hand here in Reno…just to name a couple of my experiences. Those don’t compare to being late on a bill or a tardy arrival to work…either of what might cause someone stress. I remember you and Steve having to fly home from Hawaii for the loss of your brother in law. That is perspective of what is truly a significant life event in the grand scheme of things. Awesome post, my friend 🙂 P.S. Inside “word” between us only…awesome Dome of St Paul’s pic…I think you will know what I mean *wink*


Suzanne Fluhr December 28, 2014 at 9:43 am

Thanks, Mike. You were one of the people I was thinking about when I wrote this post.


Jacqueline Gum (Jacquie) December 28, 2014 at 12:17 pm

Ahhh…this was poignant and funny at the same time. I hope that was your intent:) It’s unfortunate that perspective always seems to come with the slap of a 2X4 to the head. But it is very insightful that “the grand scheme of things” is so very different for each individual and even that varies on a daily basis. Where do any of us fit in any grand scheme scenario? Maybe it’s up to us after all


Suzanne Fluhr December 28, 2014 at 10:16 pm

I always try to lighten up poignancy with a little humor. It helps me find myself in the grand scheme of things. The key is to be able to find oneself without needing the 2 X 4. 😉 In any case, it’s less painful that way.


Stacia Friedman December 28, 2014 at 12:21 pm

My Grand Scheme of Yhings took a sharp curve last week when I felt a painful lump in my neck. Although I had been told numerous times by my parents that I was, indeed, a pain in the neck, having one heightened my anxiety. Especially when my doctor ordered an ultra-sound and then a cat-scan.

During a 24-hour “window” in which I contemplated my mortality, I came to several startling conclusions about the Grand Scheme of Things. I discovered that as much as I love medical science, I have no intention of ever being its guinea pig. If I have cancer, no chemo or radiation for me! Give me marijuana (and Champage) or give me death!
If I had a terminal illness, I wanted to go down in history as the first Jew to attend their own shiva. I would myself a catered goodbye party and dance myself silly. I have witnessed loved ones make the slow, brave “fight” and that’s not me. (However, I did ask a friend in Israel to ask the Almighty to go easy on me. It’s a local call from Jerusalem.)

48 hours later, my Grand Scheme of Things, took a U-turn. I was told that the lump in my lymph node isn’t cancer. It’s a calcification that may or may not require surgery. I admit, I was slightly dissappointed. In my mind, I had been enjoying going over the catering menu for my shiva. Now what???? Shit! I may live another 20-30 years and in the Grand Scheme of Things that means Finding Purpose, along with generating income to cover the cost of the next Big Scary Thing. So, I’d say that on the flip side of 60, in the Grand Scheme of Things, good health and supportive friends and family take priority over all else. Including politics, the economy and who wins the football game.


Suzanne Fluhr December 28, 2014 at 10:09 pm

Stacia, nothing like a good health scare to help one keep perspective in the grand scheme of things. However, no reason not to have your shiva—-just call it something else—-but keep the food and dancing. 😉


Suzanne Durville January 6, 2015 at 11:13 am

What a great idea! My Mother passed away on Thanksgiving weekend at almost 96. I wish she’d had a funeral party years before when she and her friends could still have danced ’til dawn and celebrated her life and their lifelong friendships. She had severe dementia and, by the time she passed away, most of her friends had either predeceased her or were suffering similar physical and mental impairments that made them less than the people that they spent most of their lives being. We should sing and dance and laugh and love today…Today is the Grand Scheme of Things. I think I’ll go book the band.
(Just on a side note…When I was about 8, I got into a heap of trouble for calling an undertaker to announce my imminent death the following week as I was not being allowed to attend a “must attend” party and knew, therefore, that I would die. My parents were not amused, but at 8 that was my reality. As we grow older, our perspective widens, but it is never as wide today as it will be tomorrow. I’m sure that in 5 years, I’ll look back on things I worried about today and wonder why I ever could have thought that they were soooo important. Our “Grand Scheme of Things” is forever in flux – which is a good thing. It means we’re still learning, still growing…still breathing.) My New Year’s resolution this year is to do what I can about the things that worry me…and then let them go when there is nothing more I can do and let time take it’s course. We’ll see how that works out. Happy New Year, Suzanne!


Suzanne Fluhr January 8, 2015 at 4:48 pm

Suzanne, that is quite an amazing story about how you called the undertaker to report your imminent death at age 8 and a stellar example of how our view of the “grand scheme of things” evolves as we age.


Patti December 28, 2014 at 3:04 pm

No one in the loop (about my mother) had my phone number, but the funeral home guy emailed me that morning, asking for my signature. Three hours later the police knocked on the door. Once I figured out what was going on, I was livid! He didn’t even give me a chance to respond to his email before sending the police, and the police were none too happy either. The funeral home guy had called the Rockville police and asked them to come to my door and have me call the funeral home. So the officers knew they were coming to tell me someone had died, but didn’t know who. It was a bad day all the way around.


Suzanne Fluhr December 28, 2014 at 10:24 pm

Patti, I hope you at least get a good blog post out of the otherwise awful experience.


Donna Janke December 28, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Well said. It can be hard sometimes to keep things in perspective, but in the “grand scheme of things” it is important to do so. I love the picture of the hibiscus. Beautiful.


nan @ lbddiaries December 28, 2014 at 4:16 pm

One of the lines Alpha Hubby and I use is “In two weeks you won’t notice it”. We employed that a lot during our house remodel. Getting in a knock-down-drag-out over a light switch cover is stupid because in two weeks you won’t even notice it (unless you are the type to hold ignorant grudges). His favorite line is “There’s always another one” when I used to fret at auctions and the like, especially when I didn’t win. Over the years he’s been proven right. I may not have won that particular item but later on an even better item showed up, each and every time.

I had a ex who decided “we” needed to die because “he” didn’t want to live anymore. He tried a few times before I got out. Alpha Hubby lost his late wife, then didn’t even have time to mourn before he had to rush to his mother’s bedside while she lay dying, then lost a sister-in-law, a brother, and a sister, all to different things, and all the space of a couple of months right before we met. To say he’s learned what is important in life is a major understatement. To keep breathing, to keep going forward, was one of the hardest things he had to do. He keeps me focused on what is important, too.

In the grand scheme of things, we both survived. Living in the now, living with purpose, living with as much joy and happiness, and a feeling of adventure as possible because life really is short – yeah, all that other stuff is very minor! GREAT POST!!


Suzanne Fluhr December 28, 2014 at 10:11 pm

Nan–I heartily endorse Alpha Hubby’s test—in the grand scheme of things. If you know you won’t notice it in two weeks—-really, just let it go. Happy New Year to you both.


Beth Niebuhr December 28, 2014 at 6:06 pm

Oh yes, our grand scheme of things changes as the years go by. I love the examples you gave. When we are teens a breakup with our love is mind-boggling. Losing family members puts that into perspective. However, I did marry my high school sweetheart 13 years ago, proving that sometimes a young person’s mistake can be corrected. At the time we were both too indignant to apologize. Now, we don’t fight! We are both much more realistic about what matters (not a spat) in The Grand Scheme of Things. Good post, Suzanne.


Suzanne Fluhr December 28, 2014 at 10:13 pm

One of the benefits of aging is that it helps us get a handle on where things fit in the grand scheme of things. I’m so happy for you that you and your high school sweetheart gave each other another chance. We don’t always get do overs. Happy New Year.


Lenie December 28, 2014 at 7:55 pm

Happy New Year Suzanne – all the best in 2015. Now here is an example of in the Grand Scheme of Things. My husband tends to leave drawers open just a hair but enough that I find annoying. My sister who was going through a painful divorce at the time told me to consider myself lucky because in the grand scheme of things, a slightly open drawer was pretty insignificant. Now I no longer nag, i just close the drawer.


Suzanne Fluhr December 28, 2014 at 9:35 pm

Thank you. Best wishes for the New Year to you too. Yep, leaving drawers slightly ajar is definitely small stuff — in the grand scheme of things — annoying, but not worth making each other miserable about.


Carmen Clayton November 16, 2019 at 4:38 pm

Yes, in the grand scheme of things an drawer, door or what ever slightly ajar is nothing to stress over, but to embrace! If you lose him you won’t have them and in the grand scheme of things you would pray to have them! I too had a breakup in my highschool years, thank the LORD I did, in the grand scheme of things I would have missed out on the greatest marriages of all times!


Marilyn Jones December 29, 2014 at 5:38 am

You are so right. We all get caught up in petty annoyances when people all around us are going through life changing events. We should all be a little calmer, kinder and more patient with our friends, coworkers and strangers when most of life’s seeming annoyances don’t really mean much — in the grand scheme of things…


Sala December 29, 2014 at 6:43 am

Oh! You are so right. As you know, the past couple years have been rough. An unexpected health crisis has given me a real perspective on the “grand scheme of things.” My nieces and nephews and anyone around me who’s younger than 30 will roll their eyes and fall over backwards when reminded that their anxiety about some social matter will pass. Yet, for them and for me, it’s important to maintain the balance; as you say, to keep things in perspective. I am coming to appreciate the ability to let things go, to laugh at myself when I’ve misplaced the car keys, and to kick back and have a cup of tea until the crisis is over. Heck – I’ll be 67 in January. It’s really time to embrace the reality in the grand scheme of things. Reading your blog not only improves my health but brings me great joy! And joy, in the grand scheme of things, is life’s greatest gift. Happy new year!


Suzanne Fluhr December 29, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Thanks so much, Sala. Here’s hoping that 2015 brings you improved physical health. It seems that you’re dealing with the emotional side of it with acquired wisdom. Write on!


Catarina December 29, 2014 at 8:02 am

To me the grand scheme of things is the universe and how it works. None of us know for sure and for some reason we are not supposed to. My late father was right when he said that most things in life are not important and we should not give them importance.


Kristin Henning December 29, 2014 at 8:40 am

Suzanne, I always appreciate reading posts that are grounded in traveling through life, beyond traveling from here to there. It is a fact that losses in life sure do make lost luggage a mere distraction. Happy new year to you and yours!


Suzanne Fluhr December 29, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Thanks, Kristin, that’s why I subtitled Boomeresque—-Baby Boomer Travels for the Body and Mind. As you know, I’m way fond of traveling from here to there, but no matter where we go, we take our minds with us, so we’d best learn how to travel through life with them.


noel December 29, 2014 at 8:51 am

I have a difficult time looking at what ifs or if I had done this…my motto is to live life to the fullest and for today and appreciate everyone around you that you meet daily.


andleeb December 29, 2014 at 11:16 am

Grand scheme of things curved last week when I came to know about the terrorist attack in a School in Pakistan. It was very painful day in the history of Pakistan.

I think that it depends on our mood but moods are same if our team in any game is winning or losing.

I also believe that, ” A thing’s importance “in the grand scheme of things” changes with age and experience.”


santafetraveler December 29, 2014 at 11:59 am

What a great topic for a post. People (me included) let the little things get them. In the grand scheme of things if you’ve got a roof over your head, creature comforts like heat and electricity and food on the table, in the grand scheme of things, you’re lucky. If you have a new car, all the electronics you want and other luxuries, you’re damned lucky. I remember this daily when I hear or watch the news.


Suzanne Fluhr December 29, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Thanks, Billie. So many of our problems are First World ones. Usually, when I can make that connection, I know we’re not talking about a catastrophe.


Tim December 29, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Life has a way of taking on new meaning after the loss of someone close; nice post and very relevant to a lot of over ly dramatic folk out there.


Ken Dowell December 29, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Loved the last line of this post. I guess the grand scheme of things is a way to shake things off. It’s somewhat related to “things could be worse” and of course you can always find things that are. Kind of a necessary mental health tactic so you don’t drive yourself nuts overreacting to stuff.


Anita @ No Particular Place To Go December 29, 2014 at 7:10 pm

This was a thoughtful post that resonated with me and timely as well with 2015 just days away. As I’ve gotten older I’m better able to juggle my priorities and tamp down my need to be “perfect” (as well as my crushing disappointment when I fail!) but I still lose sight of what’s important and what’s irrelevant “in the grand scheme of things.”


Irene S Levine December 29, 2014 at 7:54 pm

Thanks for such a thoughtful and absolutely beautiful post!
It IS so easy to get caught up in minutiae and your reminder was sobering.
I love the funny part of you and the serious.

Hugs for all good things in 2015.


Nancie (@Ladyexpat) December 29, 2014 at 8:19 pm

I agree that the “grand scheme of things” is pretty much based on where we are on our own cycle of life. Everyday that I get up and know that my 91 year old Dad is still chugging along nicely means that is perfection in the “grand scheme”. 🙂 Happy New Year, Suzanne!


The GypsyNesters December 29, 2014 at 8:19 pm

Great post Suzanne, so important to keep things in perspective. It seems that when it comes right down to it almost all of our day to day problems don’t amount to a hill of beans in the grand scheme of things.


Carole Terwilliger Meyers December 29, 2014 at 8:42 pm

What a coincidence. My husband and I woke up early this morning and had a conversation along these lines before we got out of bed.


Michele Peterson December 30, 2014 at 9:57 am

I’m so sorry to hear of the sudden passing of your brother – what a terrible shock that must have been. Thank you for the wise words and reminder of what’s important in life. I often stray from focusing “the grand scheme of things” so your post is a great reminder on keeping life’s ever evolving array of experiences in perspective


Marquita Herald December 30, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Inspiring post Suzanne. I usually just stick with “Big Picture” but the concept and intent is the same. I’ve always been a big picture kinda gal – in work and life. In fact in the days when I used to work for other people (ugh) I used to make my bosses crazy with all of my questions because I needed to understand how all the bits and pieces we were contributing fit into the “Grand Scheme” of things. Thanks for the most enjoyable read. Wishing you a happy, healthy New Year!


Charles McCool December 30, 2014 at 2:35 pm

I passed the big 5-oh mark this year and will continue to explore the world (my grand scheme of things). Best wishes to you for an enjoyable and successful 2015.


Andy December 31, 2014 at 7:09 pm

I readily admit that the little things can really get my goat sometimes. For example, whenever I buy something at a store, I have a supernatural ability to always pick the slowest-moving checkout line, and I do in fact experience a crushing loss when other customers come to the checkout area after I do but get checked out and leave the store before I do. I cope with the situation as best I can.


Roz Warren January 1, 2015 at 11:00 am

Getting knocked on your ass by Something Truly Awful definitely gets you in touch with TGSOT. I envy those folks who have yet to have anything really bad happen to them. As we age, though, that’s increasingly rare.


William Rusho January 2, 2015 at 1:21 pm

A wonderful post. I think the issue with the “grand Scheme of things” is that for an individual it always changes. Door in out lived open, and close, which then changes our paths along the way. I think sometimes our lives are like a rubics cube. A move, or change, and our lives now have a different path. We make another changes, and another future. It is a never ending story of changes and moves, each one affecting the past moves, and changes the future moves we make.


Suzanne Fluhr January 8, 2015 at 4:50 pm

William, that’s a great allusion—-our lives being like rubic’s cubes—-a never ending story. But, I wonder what happens if you manage to get all the same color tiles on each face—I mean, what happens, in the grand scheme of things.


Susan cooper January 3, 2015 at 7:44 pm

Hi Suzanne, it is amazing how our perception of the grand scheme of things changes over the decades. Older people are so much more accepting of all things as just a part of life, even sickness and death. All of life’s experiences really help you keep things in perspective and not give importance to the minor things that dont matter in the end.


Lux Ganzon January 4, 2015 at 9:26 am

This is one powerful post. Really thought provoking. It could be because as we grow older we learn more and so we become wiser. Or some of us are young in years but has gone through a lot that the perception has changed. To each his own story, and reasons for each perception.

You wrote it so profoundly! Glad to have found your blog.


Jason B January 5, 2015 at 10:22 am

This is a very honest post. You never realize what someone could be going through. Its always good to have a different perspective about some things.


Franca January 6, 2015 at 6:15 pm

First of all sorry for your loss Suzanne, I didn’t know about it. The grand scheme of things is something so incredibly personal and it can change for each one of us based on so many factors. I do think it’s important to keep it in mind to make sure not to overreact to what it might happen to us. Dale often tells me to see things in a lighter perspective because he thinks I worry too much and I overreact at times. I’ll keep this post in mind next time that happens 😉


Neva @ Retire for the Fun of it January 11, 2015 at 2:34 pm

Your discussion about what’s important has caused me to re-read your story. So many serious illnesses these past few months have made me praying fervently for others. At this point I can only ask for a quality of life for my family members that are struggling with cancer and strokes.
I slipped on an errant zumba coin while attempting a double hitch zumba dance move. My fractured wrist seems minimal in my Grand Scheme of Things for my friends and family. May this new year create peaceful and healthy memories for you and your family.


Suzanne Fluhr January 12, 2015 at 12:06 am

Neva, I truly hope your string of illness and injury will let up for a while. I’m sorry to hear about your fractured wrist, but I’m totally impressed that you did it during a zumba class.


Josie February 12, 2015 at 8:23 am

Hi Suzanne,
We used to say, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” That expression fit better back then because we were 20 or so years younger. But now — and I’m the same age as you — “The grand scheme of things” works better, for all the reasons you state in your timely blog post. I say it often, too.
I also love the discussion this post started! Good stuff!


Suzanne Fluhr February 19, 2015 at 11:26 pm

Thanks for stopping by, Josie. Not everybody dies a lot of traveling, but everyone had to figure out where they are—in the grand scheme of things.


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