Two Feet of Change

It happened on “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

Elizabeth Taylor, as a cigarette-wielding Martha, was in a Massachusetts parking lot telling Richard Burton, as a cardigan-wearing George, that their marriage had snapped.

Mike Nichols, the director, filmed the scene with two cameras that were two feet apart.

When he reviewed the footage from the scene, one camera’s shot was unworkable. But the other’s was terrific.

“I realized that those two feet, and sometimes two inches,” Mr. Nichols told the Directors Guild of America, “could make an enormous difference.”

Sometimes, we just need to move a few inches.

When we’ve got a big problem, it’s logical to think it requires a big change. There must be many miles between where we are and where a terrific solution is. And change of that magnitude looms large enough to scare off even the most intrepid souls among us.

How lovely, then, that logic isn’t always right.

Sometimes, all it takes is two feet of change. Sometimes, if we pry open the problem, we can see that it’s not the whole engine, but just the oil that needs to be changed. That the gap between unworkable and terrific is inches, not miles.

So, let’s not forget the power of the little. The immensity of the small. Let’s not forget that in a world of many miles, a few inches can make an enormous difference.

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