Here’s a little postcard from my Miami writing retreat, where I’m working on chapter two of the book, slowly but surely. I have an endless supply of notecards, a bottomless cup of tea, a quirky dog for company, and family to distract me when I’m ready to take a break. It’s a good way to work.
While looking up a reference yesterday in Diane Ackerman’s breathtaking A Natural History of the Senses, I came across a passage that stopped me in my tracks, and I wanted to share it with you.
When you consider something like death, after which (there being no news flash to the contrary) we may well go out like a candle flame, then it probably doesn’t matter if we try too hard, are awkward sometimes, care for one another too deeply, are excessively curious about nature, are too open to experience, enjoy a nonstop expense of the senses in an effort to know life intimately and lovingly. It probably doesn’t matter if, while trying to be modest and eager watchers of life’s many spectacles, we sometimes look clumsy or get dirty or ask stupid questions or reveal our ignorance or say the wrong thing or light up with wonder like the children we are. It probably doesn’t matter if a passerby sees us dipping a finger into the moist pouches of dozens of lady’s slippers to find out what bugs tend to fall into them, and thinks us a bit eccentric. Or a neighbor, fetching her mail, sees us standing in the cold with our own letters in one hand and a seismically red autumn leaf in the other, its color hitting our senses like a blow from a stun gun, as we stand with a huge grin, too paralyzed by the intricately veined gaudiness of the leaf to move.
This is the wonderfully uncool essence of joy for me: trying too hard and caring too deeply. At the end of the day, you regret the things you didn’t do more than the ones you did.
Have a joyful, creative weekend. I hope you’re out with people you love, or getting lost in something that inspires you. Be clumsy, get dirty, grin big. What else are you here for?