Lately, I’ve been in a rut. I want to write, I need to write, but the words aren’t there, the thoughts are not gelling. I think of things all throughout the day, but nothing ever seems right. Everything seems contrived and forced. I tend to play games with ideas that I think other people will love, but I can’t seem to get enthused about them. For me, at this point in my writing career, I can’t work that way. I have to write from the heart.
But slowly, somewhere in the quiet places of my mind, a thought has been taking root and ever strongly and sweetly growing.
And that thought is this. Simplicity.
Everywhere I turn, simple blessings are presenting themselves. They are so beautifully sublime that if I don’t give proper pause, I wouldn’t even notice. Thankfully, I have been able to stop, look around, and hone in on the little things lately.
For instance, I have a pen in my purse and I don’t even know where I got it. It looks fancy (it’s not) and it is heavy and the 8th graders at school are in LOVE with it. I’ve spent two weeks trying to figure out how to bond with these kids and get them to think I’m legit and as it turns out, all I needed was a heavy duty, impressive pen. My words don’t yet matter (they will eventually) and my smile has fallen flat. I think they don’t yet trust some strange woman giving them a goofy grin first thing in the morning. But they do respond to a practical, yet pretty writing utensil. It’s win-win for all of us. I help them get their work done with my cool pen and they, in turn, are somewhat forced to interact with me and show an ounce of graciousness and an ever important insight into who they are.
Tonight Davis had a science expo at school. He had to present a science concept and his idea of choice was animal adaptations. His focus was birds and he used different tools to represent different bird beaks and the type food they could acquire with their biological make up. Other students had dry ice and chemical goop, carbonation and dye. One student had a hovercraft she was giving small children rides on and another even had six live snakes to demonstrate camouflage. I’m not even kidding. They went all out.
At first, Davis was a bit bummed about this presentation, but as the night wore on, I think he began to appreciate his small exhibit. It was a single cake pan, four small tools, and some bird food and other examples for the tools to grab. In a word, it was simple. And simple was adequate. It was more than adequate, it was divine.
In the past week, I’ve tried two new recipes. I made a banana pudding for neighbors and a meatloaf for us tonight. Both times, I altered my tried and true recipe and went for the more complex concoction of ingredients and prep work. While the final outcomes were good, they were nowhere as delectable as my old school, basic recipes. I didn’t need to be complicated. Sticking with my simple approach provides a safe, but also super delicious outcome.
Valentine’s Day is Saturday. I am one of those hypocrites who resents being told I must celebrate and show my love, but also cherish the thoughtfulness and gestures of affection. At the last minute, I tried to score reservations at two very chic restaurants in town, knowing full well I had waited too late. I began taxing my brain for original ideas, fighting the urge to run to Pinterest and steal someone else’s gem. It was as I was walking to pick Davis up from school (again, simple walking over driving to get him) that I wracked my brain for ideas.
As I was pondering and beginning to spiral into fretting, I looked down and saw a dried, brown leaf that was in the shape of a perfectly, imperfect heart. It was laying on the concrete, somewhat forlorn, but also pretty darn sweet. Simple and sweet. The leaf reminded me that love can be so unexpected, but also right before your very eyes. It is a thing of beauty to behold. And it can be straightforward and simple. No need for unnecessary complexities, no matter their source.
One last ‘slap of simplicity’ wake up call came yesterday when I discovered that a neighbor had built a Little Free Library on our street. I’m not 100% familiar with the movement, but I have a fairly good idea of what it is. I immediately told Davis about it and we picked three books from our home shelves to go and add to the sweet, precious library. I am so excited that something so incredibly basic has made it’s way into our corner of the world. We are going to share books among neighbors and strangers. We are going to do something good for no one to see, but for others to benefit from. We are going to show how much we love the written word and give of ourselves and take for ourselves and that makes me happy.
Lately, I’ve been dreaming of a farmhouse on a piece of land. Native grasses are blowing in the breeze and wildflowers are blooming across the field. There’s a dirt drive that leads to a back door that is always unlocked and open, welcoming old friends and family into our kitchen that is warm and cosy and smells of something delicious bubbling in the oven.
I don’t need fancy things. I don’t need a lot. I don’t crave clutter in my personal space or in my mind.
My mantra shall be, for as often as I can uphold (which won’t ever be close to always or quite possibly even half the time), to Keep It Simple, Sweetheart.
Simple is beautiful. Simple is best.