"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
I find your words to fit much of our situation here. How we are missing interactions with others! We await our second dose of the vaccine on February 9; wondering what changes we will make in our present routine. Sending wishes for a beautiful weekend!ReplyDelete
Yes, those simple things like a ride in the car or even going grocery shopping, have become highlights.ReplyDelete
Oh yes, humour, so important in these days. Life's little irritants are not nearly so irritating if one can see, at least occasionally, the funny side!ReplyDelete
I definitely savour your posts. Thank you.ReplyDelete
Fluffy tail guides daily
Always something new to see
Walking through nature
Thank you dear Brenda for this lovely and inspiring post.ReplyDelete
You've described our lives so poetically! I love this post. Whenever I feel sorry for us, I think about how difficult it must have been for our ancestors, especially the pioneers. Everyone led small lives back then, but they made such a huge impact on our lives today. My hope is that we can make our sacrifices meaningful, too. Thank you, Brenda, for your inspiring words.ReplyDelete
Brenda, your words are all so true and has always been the way I've chosen to live my life. However, I miss being with my family so very much and wonder when the day will come that we can safely travel to see them. It saddens me that so many are incapable of the sacrifice it takes to ensure this pandemic will stop taking the lives of way too many and stop the enormous burden, both mentally and physically, that has been placed upon our healthcare system. Finding things to fulfill my life is not the problem because there is so much in this world to look forward to. Being under the power of the inconsiderate is quite another issue because THAT will keep us from the ones we love and the aged that desperately need our help. Hope the week ahead will bring you many happy moments.ReplyDelete
This is such a rich post, full of good things! I kept nodding my head through it. I wonder if people will someday look back in fondness at this being home time when things get crazy busy in their lives once again. I do miss wonderful times with family crowded together to celebrate birthdays and holidays but I've looked at calendar pages emptied of appointments as a blessing. A good week to me was always those with no reminders on the calendar to leave home for some reason. And yet I did enjoy my first time out among people in months yesterday for the exciting gift of going to downtown Nashville to the huge Music City Center to line up with other age 75 plus people from our county for our first vaccination dose. I had forgotten how very friendly Nashvillians are and felt energized from the smiles and conversations behind masks that we had. So I guess I missed it more than I knew. Still, I am quite content to be home today with my husband and dachshunds with my favorite Chopin CDs stacked to play and a roast to start for an early Sunday supper. Outside our driveway is crowded with guests, a large flock of Canada geese who have been with us for a week now. There really is so much to be found at home, as your lovely post reminded me. Thank you!ReplyDelete
Beautiful post. We all would do quite well heeding these wise words.ReplyDelete
I wish you peace, good health and joy - any way you can find it,. Brenda.
It is so important to find small and big joys in the daily-ness of life, and I can't do it without trusting in a sovereign God! Some days are easier than others, but a plan in place is a great way to move with intention, even on those days when I am feeling discontent. Thank you for your tips!ReplyDelete
This post is just what I needed to read today. Thank you!ReplyDelete
Brenda, I so love this post and I, too, often wondering what day it is and what month. I know I am a blessed soul as being at home has always brought me great joy. And, being an only child I learned early on how to entertain myself. I never tire of a good book, looking at the beauty of nature and making soup. It really is the simple things. Have a wonderful week, my friend.❤ReplyDelete
A lovely post, Brenda. Tim and I have commented that our lives and routines changed very little with the pandemic. He still goes to work every day, and although I taught from home for a few months last spring, I've been at school every day since September. We can't see family, and that's been hard. However, with retirement, I will be at home and I will have to be deliberate about my time and activities. Your ideas are good ones that I will remember. I went for a walk after lunch today and noticed how different the light is at midday than late in the afternoon. Have a good week!ReplyDelete
This is such a beautiful and inspiring post! I agree, Brenda, we need to take each day as it comes, and feel blessed with each day as it is and as it comes. This season will pass - and I for one am hoping that I can continue to cherish and hang on to the many "silver linings" I've learned about during this time. Xo LidyReplyDelete
Hello Brenda...I read the newspaper at the kitchen table every day, much like the woman in the painting. Of course, her waist is a lot smaller than mine. ha hahhaa Your posts are refreshing,Brenda-----like bright lights in the winter gray. All so true. We must find intense beauty and joy in nature's offerings and in each day's mini-treasures. Hugs. SusanReplyDelete
I so agree with you on every one of these points. I too have thought of them and written about them in recent blog posts. Something you wrote, "Listen to music with intention..." really made me think. Although I do listen to music but often it IS more as a background and not with intention. I'm going to be mindful of this going forward.ReplyDelete
Also, lately I've been getting out & about a lot just to combat the boredom. Even though I go dog walking every day, I needed to see and be in different places so I've been exploring forests, lakes, Provincial Parks, etc. that are near us. It's really made a difference exploring these places.
Another lovely post, dear Brenda. We are coming out of our third (!) lockdown tomorrow and I can't wait.ReplyDelete
I'm catching up on your blog and this post really resonated with me.ReplyDelete
They're lifting the stay-at-home orders tomorrow, but given the new variants out there, I'm going to continue staying home as much as possible...