"You may not control all the events that happen to you,
but you can decide not to be reduced by them."
No matter how small my own world shrinks in the midst of this global pandemic, I am always on the lookout for something to open my eyes to wonder and gratitude. Now more than ever, it remains up to me to discover my beautiful life as I determine, in Maya Angelou's words, not to be reduced by the events happening around me. Saturday morning and it is another day in the middle of winter, in the middle of Covid-19, and here in our household where life is normally quieter and simpler than many households, our days have now been reduced to one day pretty much looking like another. Weeks melt into months and lines blur between weekdays and weekends. And I am glad there's no one to question my mental abilities, because some days I really do have to ask myself, so what day is it today, Wednesday, Saturday? Is it still January?
Like many around the globe, the pair of us have been in semi-isolation for months because of government mandates and recommendations. As our personal world has shrunk, so too have our daily activities, outings, and in-person social connections. Rather than outside pursuits and social events filling our days, we have found ourselves needing to search for what gives us meaning closer to home, within our own four walls, from within our own minds. And, from our social media platforms, of course (wink).
Thankfully, I am reminded of those wonderful lines Rainer Maria Rilke wrote in his book Letters to a Young Poet. They once caused me to sit up and take notice when I read them as a young woman, and now they challenge me again:
"If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself,
tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for
to the creator there is no poverty and no poor indifferent place."
RAINER MARIA RILKE
As humans, we have a need for variety in our spaces, projects, foods we eat, people we see, places we visit. We get bored easily, and maybe now more so than ever. Without this variety, our memories easily melt into waxy globs at the bottom of our candlesticks. But for many of us, our usual former ways are not available at present. Rilke challenges the poet in all of us to search for new and different ways to enrich our own daily lives with substance and meaning.
Many of us, I believe, share a kindred similarity in how we fill in those quiet spaces: nature, sacred texts, beautiful poetry and comforting books, going for walks, taking photos, baking, writing, reveling in gorgeous pieces of music—for me often it's Mozart or Bach or Debussy, along with those rhythmic new-old sea shanties going round these days.
The following reminders help me to face mostly uneventful days with anticipation and cheer:
✧ Meet each new day as it comes—and as much as possible with humour and gratitude.✧ Be silent—let silence make space to listen, and to hear.✧ Listen to music with intention, not just as background to mask the silence.✧ Watch for tiny gifts in nature that make you feel alive. Keep a list, write a haiku poem.✧ Select one or two from the dozens of lovely images, stories, and quotes you mindlessly flip through on social media. Dozens become a blur—savour the one or two.✧ Keep some semblance of routine, e.g., if waffles and bacon have been your usual weekend treat, sure jog it up and have it as a surprise on a Wednesday on occasion, but mostly keep it as the treat that signals it's the weekend.✧ Go for a drive or a bus ride 'just because'. Watch the clouds, watch the people, enjoy the sparkling snow on evergreen branches and rooftops and fields.
I mused to Rick the other morning that I now appreciate how dogs must feel when they hear the welcome words, Let's go for a car ride. When he tells me he's off to run an errand and do I want to come along for the ride, I almost feel my plumy tail wagging as a grin spreads across my face. Of course, I want to come with you, I say. It's the big event in our small world these days. And it's okay, even in the minutiae, life is still full of the good and the beautiful.
"...look carefully; record what you see.
Find a way to make beauty necessary.
Find a way to make necessity beautiful."
* * *
I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Keep safe.
Here's wishing you beauty and heart's ease.
"At the Breakfast Table with the Morning Newspaper"
Danish Artist Laurits Andersen Ring (1854-1933)
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons