But I am one of those people who thinks you have to let go of your scarcity for good things. You have to let go of the addiction to fantastical good, big things, like the ones that make the papers. We have to let go of that definition and instead believe in small, good things or we don’t get free.
I count them like money: my small, good things. They are money in the bank: flower scents and aromatic oils and kind moments and garden fresh meals and skills we’ve learned and friends who apologize and brave people who reach out to the world and say, “This is what I can do, to help.”
This is what makes the world make sense again, when terrible things keep happening. This is what makes it possible for me to feel my feelings in a world where good things and bad things live right next door to one another.
Small, good things matter.
I came across this post by Esther Emery a few days ago. It was perfectly timed; the past few weeks have felt blurry and scrambled. There is so much going on in the larger world, so much pain and brokenness. And there is so much change going on in mine. Sometimes it feels as though I have a thousand voices in my head, shouting for attention, and I cannot unravel them from one another long enough to make sense of it all. I want the big picture; I want a clear road ahead.
But I cannot have this clarity now. I can only choose to give myself to each moment, and for that I need a smaller field of vision. I need to focus on what is right in front of me: the mushroom I picked in the forest on Saturday, the sound of my horse’s breathing, the music of the poem I read this morning. And when that something in front of me is hard or painful, I need to attend to it with an open heart and do what I can, then let it go.
Small, good things matter. I have been reading a book by Robert Macfarlane called Landmarks. In it he speaks of being a lover of mountains, living in the flatlands of Cambridge, of learning to love a landscape devoid of dramatic beauty. He says, “Becoming a father altered my focal length and adjusted my depth of field. Children are generally uninterested in grandeur, and rapt by the miniature and close at hand (a teeming ants’ nest, a chalk pit, moss jungles, lichen continents, a low-branched climbing tree). From them-among countless other lessons-I have learnt that the magnitude of scale is no metric by which to judge natural spectacle, and that wonder is now, more than ever, an essential survival skill.” I like that, the idea of wonder as a survival skill.
I had plans for my morning, plans that didn’t materialize quite as I’d hoped. So I tried to be present to the little piece of them that I was able to salvage. I attended to the words on the page in front of me, and found a kind of spaciousness entering the tightness in my chest. I breathed a little easier, and realized that I could hear the birdsong outside, the birdsong that had been there all along.