Tiny Bits of Joy

Sometimes we are so busy looking for that big, exciting moment that we miss the little things. Often, little things stir my heart so much more. I remember little things, and that fact makes them even more special to me.

Today I want you to take notice of the little things that make you smile. Really notice them. Watch, enjoy, absorb, and remember. Take that feeling with you. Grab hold of it and don’t let go. When you are hurting or lonely or confused – bring that feeling back. It doesn’t have to be big to overpower even a big hurt. It’s the little things that bring us back to a simple place of joy. Remember the little things and breathe in the joy.

Here are some of the little things that move me:

  1. Duck butts. Yes, you read that right. Real ducks, real butts. They’re cute waddling along a path, but in the water….ahhhh, that’s where the magic happens. There is something wildly entertaining to me when I see a duck dive beneath the water and his tail feathers rise high above the surface. And then, as he (she?) roots around and those cute feathers wiggle about…((squee))…it truly makes me giggle with joy. They turn themselves completely upside down. They stay under water for so long. They seem so strong as they tread water with their powerful webbed feet. When I am too old to live on my own, please put me in a home with a pond that is alive with ducks. Let me sit on a bench and watch duck butts all day. I will be happy.
  2. Sunrise / sunset.  There is something magical when the sky changes color. Part of my vacation ritual is to make time for the sun at its earliest and its final moments. From the ridge of the Grand Canyon, in the ocean on my way to Cozumel, on our little lake in the Adirondacks or from atop Mount Magazine – the sun catches my attention first, last, and most. I love the early morning hours when everything seems to glow just a little bit. And then a beautiful blend of yellow and pink and pale orange start to appear in the sky, slowly stretching its color to cover more and more, illuminating the Earth and welcoming the day. If forced to choose, I would prefer a sunset. I guess I like the end of the day, knowing it’s all drawing to a close. I love the deep tones as the sun appears to be holding on to the day as long as possible, fighting the darkness. It seems to get brighter as the moon works hard to do its job, reminding you of its power and strength, leaving you with one bold eruption of color to hold you over until morning comes.
  3. Baby elephants…well, baby (almost) anything. Baby elephants with their lack of trunk control make me smile every time. Baby otters have the silliest squeak of a voice. Baby hippos are ginormous, and yet just like any other tiny baby. Fox kits have ears as big as their heads. Baby hedgehogs…well, they’re cute no matter their age. But, really – piglets, cubs, bunnies, calf, chicks, pups, fawns…their awkwardness and adorableness are hard to resist. Have you seen a baby sloth?! I love seeing young species in the wild (okay, the park, but still) with their mom/dad. Watching them try to learn how to walk or forage or peck or howl or fly is amazing! Honestly – just watch. They are teachers and students and shepherds of our world right there for us to see. Be still. Be amazed.
  4. Dads being dads. I love seeing dads with kids, especially outside the venues previously reserved for male participation – like the ball field/court/diamond/etc.  I grew up when stay-at-home moms were still the norm and dads often had a more limited role with the kids. So, seeing a dad pushing a kid in a shopping cart, or encouraging them as they cross the monkey bars, or wiping the ice cream drips from a tiny chin brings a wonderment to me. I love hearing the conversations they share; dads talk with their kids differently than moms do. And this is a good thing. Our kids need to experience all kinds of relationships. And, as sexist as this all might seem, seeing a dad with a baby still melts my heart. (I’m old, bear with my old ideals) A dad still looks like strength and fortitude and steadfastness to me. But, with a delicate child in his arms, even the strongest dad looks all-at-once mighty and completely  vulnerable. To see the love and awe in his eyes….that is beauty alive. 
  5. Old people holding hands. Yes, I am a hopeless romantic. Seeing a couple so in love and connected that they reach for each other time after time is a blessing to observe. I adore touch. I crave it. I ache to believe that someday, someone will want to reach for me that way. To see it shared between two people who have conjoined decades of life – of trials and progress – gives me hope for someday. I truly enjoy seeing genuinely loving social media posts between my paired off friends and family. To publicly declare your adoration of another, to say in front of the world “you have made my life better in big ways and in small ways” is bold and gracious. To all of you who say thank you to your significant other in public ways – don’t stop. Don’t let the grumpy people silence your joy. Share it for people like me who see it as a wonderful way to teach our children what commitment and dedication and caring for each other looks like.
  6. Rainstorms on a warm summer night. Warm night, cool rain…you can probably find me outside getting wet. Rain, in general, holds an intricate fascination for me. Summer rains heighten that intrigue. As a child I remember swimming in the rain and the special laughter it would bring. I remember seeing a rainstorm building while out on my bicycle and trying to race home so I wouldn’t get caught in it, and secretly taking the long way home so that maybe I would. Water is nourishing and cleansing. It is necessary. I still remember a night, long ago, when my love took my hand and led me outside to dance with him in a summer rain. Our music was the rhythm of the drops on the grass and the trees and the lake. I could have stayed there in his arms for an eternity. Many years later when we parted I told him I was sorry we would never dance in the rain again. It’s okay, I have the memory every time it rains.
  7. Acoustic guitar. Listen. Close your eyes and let the wholeness of the notes wash over you. Music is amazing. When I am filled with joy the sound will meld with all that sparkles within me and resonate to those around me. If I am feeling blue, the tones will seep into my core, wrapping me with understanding and comfort. The notes mix in different ways. My ears hear the same notes very differently depending on my mood – sweet, bassy, muted. I let the music take the lead. I am a passenger on the journey of healing and uplifting. Listen to the hum of the reverberation, the echo of the body, the pluck of the string. The notes become like a big bubble enveloping me. Changing me. Let the music lead.
  8. Art you see with your soul; paintings or sculpture or music or dance that hits you like a sucker punch in a prize fight. Like this one I saw recently:
    blown awayLook at her, built of iron and steel worn like armor. She stands tall ‘neath the weight of all she carries. She has pieced herself back together from found bits left behind when she is torn down by those who hurt her. She gathers the shattered remains and welds them with the fire in her belly, fanned by love not hate. There is no anger from her trials. Look at her – there is a quiet peace in her. She stands straight, facing the sun, buttressing the winds. Let them flow. The armor she crafts to rebuild her fractured soul is solid yet fragile. She can be broken apart again by a wind of change, piercing her armor and dissolving her back into only found bits. She will gather them again. She will stand tall. You see her, brave, facing the winds that come her way again and again. You don’t see what comes after, how it destroys her. She won’t let you see that.          Sucker punch.
  9. Stars and planets and the moon on a clear night. Look at them. Please. Drive far away from your city lights and look UP. The brilliance of the light against the darkness is amazing to witness. Those lights you see are trillions of miles away from you! Can you even fathom that distance? Gasses and particles combine and get consumed and erupt into bursts of light to entertain us. There is life and death happening above our heads. There is history and destiny mixing around us. Lie still and watch the music composed by the stars that surround us. It is a symphony that will never repeat itself. Look up and know that someone you’ve never met can look on those same stars. The moon illuminates your life and the life of someone you may never know. You share this with everyone on this planet. It is for all of us. Together. It (literally) moves all of us. Understand that you are a tiny piece of this universe, there is so much more than what we can see or know. But your part is just as important as another. Together.
  10. Poetry that pools in your eyes or erupts in your gut. Maybe it’s Othello’s monologue before killing his wife that stirs you most. Perhaps it’s a simple meme you saw making the rounds on the internet that lifts your spirits. Or, could it be something you heard from a poetry slam?  I like to find the words that speak to me loudest, or most quietly. Some poetry needs to be read over and over to let it truly sink in and reveal itself to us. Some come to us very distinct from the start. But you will know when the words are right. You will not simply read or hear the words, but they will breathe a new realization into you. There are poems that make me want to stand up and shout them to the world. There is poetry that I save and hold close, sharing only with a carefully chosen few. Find the poetry that breathes for you. Inhale the words deeply, over and over. It will stay with you. It will be your savior when life’s protests take your breath away. Exhale the shallow and trite words of our everyday life to make room for poetry that moves you to be more.

Spend today as a noticer. Notice the tiny bits of joy that seep into your day. Don’t let them pass without appreciation. When you find them, close your eyes tight and create a picture of that joy to hold within you when sadness finds its way to you. Then, release your joy into the world to be shared with someone else. Be a noticer, and share.

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