Complex life is delicate and rare. But most life is simple, abundant, and incredibly strong.
Last week, I noticed moss growing amongst the stones in one of the pots on my patio. It was wet with dew, the colour alive and vibrant in the early morning sun. The sporophytes were tipped with little droplets that captured the light, tiny crystals on slender spires.
I close my eyes now and think of the fragrance of soil after rain, the scent of heliotrope on a summer morning, the way water pearls in the centre of an Echeveria. I picture gooseberries hiding in their filigreed bells, imagine the burst of tartness in my mouth.
Perhaps it is the ever increasing complexity of my days, of the world around me, that makes these simple things so precious. Trees and flowers and mosses are rooted to place; and are completely themselves. In their simplicity, their unity of purpose and existence, they remind me that little is needed to make a life strong and beautiful.
I love what Kevin Carey says about simple life being abundant. I know that he was speaking in terms of the reality that simple life forms far outnumber the complex ones. But I think it’s true in another way too. Simplicity can be abundant and lavish. It’s not more (time, activity, stuff) that creates fullness. It’s entering more fully into the one or two things that matter most to me that bring a sense of wholeness, presence and contentment. I am reminded again of Mary Oliver’s question, ‘Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’
It’s that word: one. I have one life, and I am only one. Can I close myself to the whip cracking incessantly in my ears, to the voice saying, ‘Do more. Be more. Chase this. Chase that!’ Can I learn from the moss to be quiet in place and capture the light that is given me?
(The poetry page features a poem by David Whyte this week.)