The Very, Very Small

I have Tuesdays off.  You might notice that today is Tuesday, that I’m writing to you, and this is part of my day “off”.  When I write, I get to explore my psyche, my soul and my feelings.  This is a holiday in contrast to analyzing and responding to the world around me.  I do love my “work”, and it calls me to meet my community as a teacher a therapist, yet my inner road is travelled but one of my seven days, and feels precious. I take time to become slower and smaller.

Though this morning’s rainy landscape looked monochrome and fallow, I sensed that the seascape would help me downshift to slow and small.  I bought myself a frivolous drink and parked where I could look out over the Salish Sea.  My eyes always hunger for beauty, my soul for nuance.  I can only indulge the latter when I get very, very small.  I might even need to disappear to feel nature’s grace.

My everyday self assesses a scene crudely, like a clumsy soldier with one anticipating hand trembling at the gun’s throat.  This is left brain, keeping guard, assuring my survival, but not exactly versed in subtlety.  This part of the brain is basically a prediction machine, and will skip details that don’t register as threats. It has a continuous, quick pace. Today I forced myself to decelerate, 4,3,2,1, N, to sip and pause, to interrupt the velocity of my storytelling mind, and just allow my eyes to be quiet, and feel the moment.


The flat, ubiquitous grey of a winter sky is so much more when I become tiny and slow.

Like a closeup of a cosy sweater, many colors or threads combine and harmonize to make the offering that our hurried, soldier eyes would just call “sweater”.

This sweater of the sky is dynamic, in an unending flow of shape, texture and shadow, if you’re willing to be still to witness its movement.

For years now, everyone has told me they want simpler lives, so they can start to thrive on more freedom and less buzzy hustling.  The COVID time scheme shifted some of our ideas about how to use this precious commodity, but as most of us are back at work or school, the familiarity of perceived lack has hold again.

How about a simple, five-step practice, to reclaim some richness?

1. Acknowledge that your soul is ripe for a date with you.
2. Stop.
3. Breathe.
4. Pay attention.
5. Create:  speak, sing, write, draw with a stick in the dirt or the soap bubbles in the sink.

How do you feel your soul?
For me, it’s more about noticing when I don’t feel connected,
to myself,
the folks in my world,
or to nature.
These are all the cues,
the alarms
I sleep through,
that my subtle self has needs,
longing to be met.

Pause.  Just stop.  Remember that whatever you’re doing, it can wait a few seconds.  This may be your whole recess, a small amount of time to become small, like a ladybug. Let a moment pass, for enough time to
take a breath.  Feel where the breath can be felt.  Get curious, stay small and feel for the subtle, the nuanced. Let your consciousness explore the texture of your inhalations, like an open palm gliding along the bolts of fibers at the fabric store.
Pay attention to what your feeling-life encounters.  Absorb details as if translating, from a dream, from another language or code, just take them in.

Create.  Become the teacher now, the poet, the earnest lover, who wants to tell, to show, to bring into form that which lives in the ethers of ideas.  Honor the very, very small detail, the curve of the raindrop, the smell of door frame, the taste of boredom.  This right side of your brain has been waiting to be heard and to speak, perhaps in slythy toaves, and it will always defer to the swift, critical left brain, unless we develop practices and designate time for it to sing out its unique tunes.

Please, get creative!  Do something differently than the way you otherwise would:  close your eyes while you stir the pancake batter, chew the next bite 25 times, stand in the rain and growl.  Your right brain has endless freedom – imagination has no limits.  Take what you found from the very, very small, and give it its life.  Every amazing invention and theory was once just someone’s musing.  If Alexander Graham Bell, Hedy Lamarr and Marie Curie had kept their ideas to themselves, we would likely be living a very different life now.

“Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” -Oscar Wilde

As always, I hope this was helpful.