About a month ago, I was driving down the highway behind a big semi truck. On the back was a vibrant picture of fruits and vegetables and underneath were the words Goodness Unearthed. Wanting to be a writer and lacking creativity when it comes to titles, I thought this would be a perfect title for a piece. So I began waiting around for some goodness to be unearthed in my life. But instead of noticing the organic joy in my life, I slowly became preoccupied with to-do lists and preparing my house for some visitors coming in June. And here I am a month later, still wondering where those poetic moments of my life are that I’m supposed to write about.
Someone I know lives her life much more poetically than I do. Her house has lovely nooks and crannies in which she places perfectly chosen odd items from the thrift store. Her breakfasts always have a serving of whole grain and a piece of brightly colored fruit. She has a way to describe her neighbors that makes them all seem to be a part of her family. The peonies in her yard have bloomed just for her that morning. Instead of saying that her baby keeps her up all night, she simply states that her child has a pair of lungs on her that want to be heard.
This is not me.
I strive and strive to be lovely like her. But probably the fact that I think this much about it makes it a pretty impossible label to achieve. I don’t see the world as if each frame is to be photographed, pondered, remembered. Right now my dogs lie on either side of me, sleeping soundly after a long day of boundary barking and lying around waiting for me to do something other than laundry. If I were poetic, I wouldn’t need to conjure up these words to describe it. They would be in my heart, narrating the scene as I take it in. Instead, I’m noticing the mud tracks that my husband brought in on the floor.
I went to Goodwill on Saturday and I stood in the aisles of dented candleholders and gynormous (how do you even spell that word?) television sets that were missing the buttons. I couldn’t see past the imperfections, the large collection of imperfection. Others see beauty, an eclectic set of items to place on their shelves. I see junk. I can’t see the possibility. How is it that I can recognize beauty in other people’s lives but find it so difficult to live that way myself? Is it like someone who is tone-deaf but still enjoys music? Real simple magazine elicits a picture of this life that I would love to have. It’s the neatly folded bamboo towels on the brightly painted shelves inside the minimalist bathroom. Is this just trendy? Am I just suffering from a serious case of “keeping up with the Jones’s?” Or is it the sage knowledge that simplicity brings joy and peace?
Tonight after a long day of laundry and organizing, I found myself out in my garden. Finally planting the tomato starts that I bought two weeks ago (and fear will not survive now…) I was wearing my big polka dotted rain boots that Mike bought me for my birthday. Bending down to make a small hole for my first plant, I had a thought. First of all, rushing in all around me was the beauty of this scene. The deep brown of the freshly tilled dirt squishing beneath my boots. The sweetness of my purple garden gloves, that small detail that finally made me find gardening bearable. (Dry dirt rubbing together between my fingers is worse than fingernails on a chalkboard.) I looked up and the rain was falling lightly and I noticed the fullness of the rhododendron bush and our honeysuckle that is frankly out of control. I found it ironic that I physically had to go out and unearth some dirt to find myself lost in the poetry of life’s goodness.
And perhaps that’s my lesson. I’m not naturally inclined to see the beauty in my life. Even though I so readily recognize it in others’. But when I stop thinking about it and just go do some simple things, then I am there. In it. A little later, as I was mixing up some cake batter, I noticed how happy my little wooden elephant makes me. Sitting on the windowsill of the window my husband put in for me. And the cool breeze that came in, moving my curtains and bringing the smell of rain. Blending together with the scents of cocoa and melted butter. I was in it yet again, seeing my life in photographs and poetry. Unearthing goodness by baking a cake and not thinking so much about how I need to be lovelier.
© 2011 D. Willson