Easily Ignored

My newspaper column this week, inspired David Kanigan:

Question: “What is a cloud like?”
Answer: “They’re like God’s dreams,…”

A taxi cab driver asked one of his frequent passengers, who happened to be blind, what the one thing she wished she could see. Her answer was “Clouds”. He was surprised at her answer, so he asked her why—and she said: “Because I cannot imagine them.”

The driver whose name is Ken Nerburn is now an author and he wrote a book called “Small Graces: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life.” In his book is an essay called, ‘The Gift of Clouds’, and in that essay he attempted to describe clouds. In the end he concluded that they “are like God’s dreams,” and the woman was peacefully satisfied with that intangible but apt description.

He did describe clouds more concretely–not as a climatologist or scientist might—but as a poet, an artist with words. He said:

“What else in this great universe so eludes description, so fills the spirit with wonder? What else floats gossamer and ethereal above our lives, never touching down but always present with us, a reminder of the majesty of an unseen God? As a child we are alive to their magic. We lie on our backs on summer hillsides, make up stories, find giants and dragons in their forms. They are God’s sketchbook, the measure of our capacity to dream. But as we grow, they fall victim to numbing familiarity. Their poetry and majesty, though still alive in our hearts, is easily overlooked, easily ignored.”

His words make you wonder what else we overlook and ignore. What other things that we found so magical when we were children are now just part and parcel of the drudgery of everyday life? As a child I did lay flat on my back in the soft grass in my front yard with my little sister and find all manner of wonderful things in the clouds: happy faces and dogs, magic carpets and fairies, castles and sometimes, sometimes, even God’s face—because when you are a child you think anything is possible.

Recently, I wrote a poem called “The Divine” and with your permission (I must ask because I know you do not have to read it) I will share it with you now. It celebrates some of those everyday things that make a life:

Prosaic poetry
Turns banal into inspiring
Evoking hidden magic
In the baking powder.
A tea canister
Holds warmth and comfort
Loosened by
Boiling water

Crusty French bread
Slathered in real butter
Heaven bursts forth
On the tongue.

Lunch with friends
Or favourite sister ~
Time stands still, waits,
Leaving a crumpled napkin.

Life delights
If you do not think about it too hard.

Nonsense makes sense
If you wait long enough…..

It is the small things that are the big things. The big things melt away revealing the important things that sometimes get left behind as we grow up, grow older, and grow familiar. It is in the familiar that we need to recognize life’s mystical charm.

What are your small things that are really your big things?

Published in: on April 20, 2015 at 1:49 pm  Comments (32)  
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32 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Lovely post, bringing back the days of a child’s imagination and holding it closely in memory.

  2. Inspiring post….as I began reading about clouds in your post, I immediately thought back to our days lying in the grass with our hands behind our heads, finding faces in the clouds, then I read further down and you have the same thoughts. Our shared history is a big little thing, connecting us through the miles.

    • I love your big little thing–it is mine too–it is like yesterday that we were those two little dreamers in the grass

  3. Even before I read Peggy’s answer, I was thinking of the cloud game too. Even though my boys are grown now, I still play the game by myself :).

    There are so many other small things that are my big things as well like the sound of the frogs behind our house and the birds singing to wake me up in the morning that I have missed so much all winter. Or, coming home after a long day at work and settling into a chair on the deck in the sunshine with a good book and feeling the stress of the day drain away. I could go on and on :).

  4. Hot chocolate after skating till your toes tell you it’s time to go inside…. Coloured leaves in the fall pressed inside wax paper to keep and admire and even take for ‘show and tell’… A couple of my ‘little things but big’….. Diane

  5. I’m still awash in memories – and moments that remain in the forefront that in and of themselves were so simple and so pure.

  6. For me it’s a quiet evening at home, with my darling daughter, my sweet husband, and the kitty, each relaxing in their spot, enjoying the companionship. Ahhh…bliss! xoxoM

  7. Life delights
    If you do not think about it too hard. – Brilliant!

    I am all about the small things being the most important, the most significant, the most everlasting of all on this journey we call life. It is random conversations, stroking the dog’s sun warmed fur, the zipping by of a humming bird, the blaring of a line or two from a car radio – a song you had long since forgotten. It is so much more and yet so ordinary as to melt into the pattern of the cracks in the sidewalk you walk everyday.

    It is nice of you to remind me, to ask me of these things. It made me smile.

  8. I was halfway into getting all philosophical about this but then remembered your lines about French bread slathered in real butter (I like that you added “real” in there). As it’s nearly dinnertime here, I will gladly look forward to my meal and be thankful that I have food and that it can so easily satisfy me.

    • philospohical is not bad–but so is a simple piece of French bread slatthered in “real” butter

  9. A bloody great piece of writing and something to make us think

  10. So many things, just so many things.

    • that is why your blog is so well loved–you illustrate those things every day

  11. The stanza about French bread is brilliant. A small thing for me? A gentle breeze on a warm evening while outside with my husband.

    • that sounds lovely–we have been having some gales lately that would sweep you and your husband away

  12. This is a really lovely post. 🙂 I always like to catch patterns in the clouds, and try to snap a photo if I’m not in a hurry. The little things do matter. That chocolate bar at the end of a long day of work. That little compliment from my boss. The smell of clean linen when you climb into bed… among others!

  13. Watching clouds and dreaming…. that has to be universal. Like star gazing. I guess things like that are my big things. Those things that everyone in the universe shares. It helps me think that we are all connected more than it seems. It helps me forget the sad and unsettling news reports of earthquakes and cruelty between humans, of bullying and police brutality and of general stupidity that has become the norm.
    This is a great post. You should be freshly pressed, if that means anything. Your words are freshly pressed in my mind and heart!

    • you made my day with your comments

      • You made mine with your post. I have been uninterested in blogging lately. But the one blog I always check is yours. You always have something uplifting to think about.

      • I would like to return the compliment–because I always check your when you have something new–I am not as faithful to the blog world as I used to be

  14. Thanks…. you may be the motivation that I need to write something.
    Maybe. LOL

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