Monday, July 28, 2008

Small joys

Commenting on my use of the phrase "small joys" in R&R, reader and fellow blogger Hayden says, "No offense meant, since I do it too - but I wonder why we call these 'small' joys, when intrinsically they offer the most profound soul-ease?"

"Profound soul-ease." Les mots just, and I am keenly grateful for your thoughts, Hayden. I thought hard about characterizing such moments as small joys, and for reasons you suggest:
It seems to me that the celebrated joys (all of the big expensive things) offer much less comfort, less solace than those of calm, relation to nature's other creatures, the natural world that we have (in large) repudiated except as a fantasy resort.
Big-ticket events and celebrations come with an expectation of big payoffs in the joy department. Weddings, island vacations, winning the lottery, tickets to the Superbowl--we plan and anticipate for months. Our anxiety for creating the perfect experience, and the subsequent exhaustion sometimes overwhelms any joy we may accrue by the time the big day arrives.

For me, the truly big joys, the ones that make my heart swell to bursting, tend to be things like the birth of a child; driving down Highway 1 and coming upon a pod of whales feeding, diving, breaching for an hour while we watched from the best possible vantage point; raising my voice in harmony in a friend's living room with two dozen amateur musicians who sing and play for the love of it.

Those are the big joys. At the end of the day, my face aches from smiling and I sleep long and hard and well.

But oh, how I love the small joys: my granddaughter's head falling onto my shoulder, nestled just so against my neck, as she gives in to sleep; looking up from my computer, where I've spent too many hours, to find the moon, full on in the living room window, its magical glow spread across the darkened floor; riding the escalator into the subway to the strains of Mozart performed live by a chamber quartet.

Such are the manna that sustain and nourish us. These are the moments I try to capture on the rare occasions I post to Village of Ordinary. What joys nurture you? Share a few of them here, won't you?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

We can solve it

Finally, a leader steps forward with a plan to solve global warming, halt the energy crisis, lower our energy costs, and clear the air for generations to come.
The real solutions to the climate crisis are the very same measures that are needed to renew our economy and escape the trap of ever-rising energy prices.

Moreover, they are also the very same solutions that we need to guarantee our national security without having to go to war with the Persian Gulf.
Finally, someone with clout and respect is standing up and outlining a plan of action for solving the problem.
What if we could use fuels that aren't expensive, don't cause pollution, and are abundantly available right here at home?

Today I challenge our nation to commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within ten years.
Finally, someone notices that the emperor has no clothes and is not afraid to say so.
We're borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that has to change.
It's not surprising that the leader calling us to action is Al Gore. If you care about the future of human beings on our planet, I think you'll cheer out loud as I did when you watch this excerpt from Vice President Gore's July 17 speech.

It's up to us. You. Me. We can do it. Pay attention. Go to We Can Solve It and take five minutes to take a few baby steps toward solving the problem. Bookmark it and go back for five more steps and five more.

It will take all of us. Together, we can do it within ten years. Join me. Join the millions of individuals who have signed on to help solve the climate crisis and improve the quality of life for human beings the world over for generations to come.

That's definitely Ordinary.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


After weeks of 12-hour workdays and too much activity on all fronts, with the exception of researching and writing, alas, my sweetie and I are enjoying three days of much needed R&R at Pismo Beach with these guys. Small joys. Happy days.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Dancing with the daffodils

It was a bit of a rough morning. I wasn't living up to my peaceful aspirations. The entire office was on edge. It got so bad that after awhile we exaggerated our angst, joking and laughing and bursting into snippets of song. The bosses stayed buried in their cubicles, waiting for the storm to pass, I suppose. One of my coworkers, as irritable and feisty as any of us, complained of feeling alone with her mountain of work.

"I'm wandering lonely as a cloud," she said. Someone took up the next phrase, "That floats on high o'er vales and hills." I added, "When all at once I saw a crowd, a host of golden daffodils." And just like that, people returned to their desks, the very air seemed to change. Keyboards clacked and voices relaxed, responding to calls, one after another.

My heart slowed its hard, fast beating to a more comfortable, softer pace. My breath lengthened and sunk deeper, wider into my lungs. My shoulders relaxed. For just a second, I heard my mama's voice, her beautiful alto voice, quietly full of passion and glory so that we saw the blowsy wind amidst the daffodils, felt the coolish breeze.

When I was a little girl, my mama would quote the entire poem, probably does yet today. I give it to you here, complete, a respite perhaps in your hectic day.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
by William Wordsworth, 1802

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Dancing bears

One of the joys of living in this time is the sheer volume of people who are doing something about the bad stuff in their neck of the woods. In Saving the dancing bears of India, Squidooer Frankster tells us about two warm-hearted souls who have rescued more than half of India's painfully imprisoned dancing bears, and are well on the way to rescuing all of them. They are Geeta Seshamani and Kartick Styanarayan, cofounders of Wildlife S.O.S.

I give thanks for the energy, commitment and love that keeps Geeta and Kartick going. I give gratitude for their compassion for the bears, and for their strength and courage. I give thanks too for the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), which works with the Kalandars to stop the practice of raising and enslaving the bears.

A nomadic people who have earned their livelihood for centuries exhibiting the dancing bears, the Kalandars were understandably reluctant to give up their primary income source. Through negotiation, education, and training, the WTI helps the Kalandars improve their quality of life while learning new skills and developing new income streams.

That's progress toward a much more Ordinary world, don't you think?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Making lemonade

Inevitably, no matter how much we love and and cherish one another, a little bitterness comes between us at times.

Bitter is good. It wakes up the taste buds, gets the saliva going. Just the thought of digging into the peel of a bright yellow lemon sets your mouth watering, doesn't it? Squeeze, add sugar, fresh, clean water, and you've got yourself one of the most delicious beverages known to humankind.

If a little bitterness has come into your life today, dilute it, sweeten it, and enjoy. For me, Ilana Yahav's sand fantasy is just the sugar I needed after two very difficult days. Perhaps it will help to sweeten your cup as well. One thing is certain, you'll feel better after watching.

To all creatures everywhere suffering from some sleight, imagined or real, from a misunderstanding or ongoing difficulty you just can't seem to work through, I send love. May you feel as loved as a newborn babe, cradled for the first time in its mama's arms. May you feel as safe and warm. May you never doubt that love surrounds you, persistently and as and freely as the air you breathe.

Blessed be.