I learned the beauty of simple things. And the simplest and most sophisticated thing I experienced was drinking tea.*
The walk along the old railway line produced the unexpected and the wonderful that had I stopped to take in a fraction of them, I would n’t have completed the journey in the day: the river that flowed through the trees, the surprise of a field between the trees, the haphazard pattern of different-coloured flowers, the scents and fragrances carried on such fresh air, the remains of platforms that had not seen a train since 1967 … .
The one thing I did allow myself and take in for longer was the field golden with a crop of barley or oats – I watched the waves of movement created by the warm breeze, brushing what seemed an endless palette of yellows.
All of this made more poignant the reading of Maria Popova’s Brain Picking’s Tiny Perfect Things, in which she quotes Hermann Hesse:
“My advice to the person suffering from lack of time and apathy is this: Seek out each day as many as possible of the small joys.”**
The title of Popova’s blog echoes the title of a book from poet Mary Higgins Clark, illustrated by Madeline Kloepper. Not enough time, too much time … here are two of our greatest 21st century issues or challenges (how strange they should both exist together in such large amounts). Becoming noticers of small things can save us from boredom or criticising or criticism:
“in the emotional world a small thing can touch the heart and imagination every bit as much as something impressively gigantic”.^
It doesn’t have to be a walk through the countryside. We can walk a familiar urban path more slowly and notice the things we often miss or that are only visiting this footpath at this time on this particular day. We only need slow down a little and look around. How this becomes a part of the larger day and what we have to do may well feel magical:
‘Each sensory organ, each motor function can be harnessed to the production of flow.’^^
(*From Paul Coelho’s Aleph.)
(**Herman Hesse, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Tiny Perfect Things.)
(^Henry Beston, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Tiny Perfect Things.)
(^^From Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow.)