Tiny, beautiful surprises
“For me, the first part of celebration is noticing. I find that it’s easy for me to get stuck in what’s broken or wrong with a situation, instead of seeing the beautiful parts of it, too, or that I move so fast I don’t see anything at all. These days I’m trying to notice everything, to live slowly enough to see what’s unfolding around me, and especially to look for the tiny, beautiful surprises even in the midst of wreckage and ugliness.” — Shauna Niequist
Last week I wrote about celebration, inspired by Lucille Clifton’s poetic invitation to rejoice in survival. Adding to that theme, I return to one of my own favorite topics: finding bits of beauty to celebrate in everyday life.
One of the great things about travel is seeing what is universal and shared all over the world. I can’t remember ever visiting a town or country that did not show evidence of people deliberately seeking to add loveliness to their surroundings, no matter whether the backdrop was gorgeous or sorely in need of a makeover. It seems human nature that most of us strive for improvement– in ourselves, in our homes, in our workplaces and our communities. Watching for signs of such charming benevolence is a sure way to beat back the bad news blues.
Before the flowers of summer start to fade (or as your winter slowly warms into springtime), I hope you will go on a scavenger hunt in your neighborhood, or anywhere else you may happen to be. Look for the tiny, beautiful surprises Niequist is talking about– whimsical banners adorning lawns or mailboxes, pots of flowers blooming on doorsteps, children playing or people strolling or jogging by, adding signs of life to the landscape.
It’s so easy to focus on what is ugly or broken. There are times when it takes effort to find something worth celebrating, but it’s an effort that will pay dividends and train the mind to defend itself against the never-ending onslaught of negativity. Though I’ve been training my mind to do that for years now, with varying degrees of success, it’s like any other sort of exercise; it requires constant diligence. But it can be fun, too.
I invite you to join me! What surprises are brightening your world today?