06 Mar I Love the Little Things With All My Heart
THE LITTLE THINGS are becoming my favorite things, like waking up and lighting a candle on the morning of a rainy day. The room is calm; the bitter taste of green tea accompanies the sound of rain. It rains all day; the room fills with warmth when the sun breaks through the clouds.
When it starts again I open the window to listen to the sound. When the sky begins to darken, I watch the falling static through the street lights’ luminous glow.
What do we really need to be happy? I wonder. It’s easy to say I’d be happy with nothing but my spirit guiding me through life, but when I look around I see the things that bring me joy and imagine if they were gone.
But the things are just things, not a part of me, only in my possession for a time. To release our need for more is to go through life weightless — what we need will find us when we create a bridge between our hearts and the natural flow of life.
In the 6th-century BC the Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu wrote the Tao Te Ching, his teachings of The Way. He writes:
Thus, one gains by losing, and loses by gaining.
– Lao-Tzu Tao Te Ching 42
The Tao denotes The Way, the middle path in which the universe acts in accordance. To walk along the middle path is to lead a life of integrity.
No matter how chaotic the natural world may seem, it retains its integrity by adhering to the laws of the universe. Everything that happens is integral to existence; all things have a cause and effect. From the expansive cosmos to the smallest grain of sand, there’s a balance, a flow, and a spontaneity that make the world turn.
The little things in life that connect me with this flow are becoming my favorite things. I pick up a dark red stone on the beach and carry it home.
The stone withholds the warmth of the sand, the earthy scent of being buried, a rough softness formed from washing in the tides and the deep. I carry it with me, a single stone, nestled in the palm of my hand. I toss it in the air and watch it spin in planetary motion.
The song I listen to never gets old, only better as I get older. It changes meaning as I change, too. The song makes me think of beautiful memories; I don’t think they’ll ever change, but what do I know.
I read an incredible essay this week by William Manchester, Okinawa: The Bloodiest Battle of All. Manchester served in the Pacific Theater of World War Two.
To live during a war is unimaginable. But to read about it brings the conflict to life — the battle and the inner conflict that all people felt.
“They sacrificed their future so you can have yours,” Manchester wrote about the men he served with who lost their lives. History is worth studying if only to make us appreciate everything we have.
The big things, the important big things — love, people, fresh air, freedom to think. We have these things before us, but how often do we truly notice them as enough to make us happy?
According to the World History Encyclopedia, Lao-Tzu, the author of the Tao Te Ching, may or not have even been a real person, but an embodiment of the sage. As the story goes:
His explanation that people could live happier, more fulfilling lives by aligning themselves with the natural flow of the Tao instead of placing themselves in opposition to it, went unheeded and, finally, he decided to leave humanity behind and retire into seclusion after writing the Tao-Te-Ching.
Life can overwhelm us, elude us, scare us, but fear amplifies when we’re living in expectation. What if we could live in awe and marvel at the fact that we’re alive? Doors would open to walk through effortlessly. Life begins to present itself when we’re open to being moved, instead of trying to move.
I love the little things that make me realize how simple life can be.
I carry the rock home and put it next to the few succulents which sit by my doorway. They turn bright green from the rain and I’m not sure how they’re still alive after several years, yet they continue to thrive.
Perhaps we can attain some sort of middle way from loving what we have, loving with everything we have, the big and the small, even just a rock. It can be challenging to realize how good life is when we view it from our modern perspective.
I’m sure Manchester would’ve loved to carry a rock and look into the sky and wonder what life is all about. He didn’t have that luxury; he was just trying to survive.
We’re alive; appreciating this simple fact gives us the most worthwhile reason to live. I love the little things with all my heart.