Small Things That Make a Big Difference

Photo by  Joshua Harris  on  Unsplash

I stumbled upon a beautiful quote from Tchaikovsky where he confessed:

I am sitting at the open window (at four a.m.) and breathing the lovely air of a spring morning… Life is still good, [and] it is worth living on a May morning… I assert that life is beautiful in spite of everything! This “everything” includes the following items: 1. Illness; I am getting much too stout, and my nerves are all to pieces. 2. The Conservatoire oppresses me to extinction; I am more and more convinced that I am absolutely unfitted to teach the theory of music. 3. My pecuniary situation is very bad. 4. I am very doubtful if Undine will be performed. I have heard that they are likely to throw me over.

In a word, there are many thorns, but the roses are there too.

So here I am on a November morning and I cannot help but agree: the roses are there too. I believe that one of the most important secrets about happiness is that the simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.

I am not the only girl who travels alone and lives abroad, and certainly I am not the first to live a nomadic life. Still, there are times I am absolutely bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have met, and each room in which I have slept.

As ordinary as it may appear, there are times when it is completely beyond my imagination.

I certainly believe that gratefulness is the most essential virtue in life. The capacity to appreciate what you already have, without losing the hunger for more, gives you peace and an uncomplicated exit toward happiness.

If you’re not inspired by life, you’re not paying attention.

These are the simple things you can notice, and enjoy. In the end, these are the things you remember. For me, the first necessity is to claim the morning, which is mine. For me the best way to give the morning back to myself is to open a real book as I drink my first cup of coffee. I’m not sure why real books are best. I think the pages remind me that I have fingerprints.

I think you should keep a physical notebook. Remember how to use the kind of pen that runs out. Go into churches, mosques, temples because even when their ceilings are low, they impose a shape on great height. Go to the post office, with all its sounds of being sent. Learn the names of trees.

Read diaries, which make the day permanent. Read anything that slows you down to the pace of real life. Remember a time, not so long ago, when email was good. Imagine every email you ever received being delivered by a very small guy on a horse, galloping through an ether landscape.

Look out the window the way Dorothy looked out the window in The Wizard of Oz — as if the tornado has plucked you up and next you might see anything.

Plant your feet on the ground and breathe in deep and let your chest rise rusty as a partridge’s and sing.

I read an article written by a woman accompanying her grandmother during her last days on earth. The old lady confessed:

I have seen and touched and danced and sang and climbed and loved and meditated on a lifetime spent living honestly. Should it all end tonight, I can positively say there would be no regrets. I feel fortunate to have walked 90 years in my shoes. I am truly lucky. I really have lived 1,000 times over.

Isn’t it a wonderful proof of a life well-lived? This is exactly what I wish to be able to say when the time comes. And for now:

There is nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.

I will live it all and write it all down. An aria to an empty train station, a requiem for a carrot.