The day started with a walk as usual. The rain had stopped but everything outside was covered in drops, beads and eye-catching, reflective little spots of dew. I smiled when I saw a single, yellow evening primrose still open among its wilted companions.
Evening primrose is a flower that borders on magical. Nearly 7 years ago I was in graduate school, living with other students in a house just north of the campus. Our neighbors across the street were two older gentlemen who honestly looked a little bit homeless. Maybe they looked like men who had been out on a fishing boat for a really long time. Regardless, they were friendly and helpful characters. One was a chemist and the other one, well I’m not sure what he did.
One evening they appeared, asking if we’d like to come over and watch the Primroses bloom. I was skeptical but there was no reason to refuse, so there we all went across the street. We stared at these relatively tall stalks of non-descript foliage and waited. And then, at the very moment that the sun began to fade, they unfurled one by one, slowly at first and then fast at the finish. They opened their petals at a tempo that looked like fast motion photography but it was in real time. It happened silently and automatically but it had us all gasping, stunned and delighted at nature’s evening event.
It cost these neighbors nothing to offer us this opportunity and it was such a big gift. For the rest of my life I’ll never forget it.
There are plenty of moments like that with little kids. While it is hard to be a parent, in some ways it’s totally easy. For example: All it took to make Big Sister’s day today was to tell her that I bought grapes at the store. And she was over the moon when I said we could sit out in the backyard on a blanket and eat them like a picnic.
I think in general we humans complicate things that can be quite simple. Kids seems to know it and so did these eccentric, old neighbors. I wonder then, is it something we lose in middle age? Does our pace begin to outrun us so that we don’t have time to be observant anymore?
The idea of living more simply lies in all of us like a dormant seed, just waiting for the right conditions to sprout. This bizarre Corona time has been its moment to bloom. As a result of these months it’s become a little more tangible, a little more possible. What does it take for us to really be satisfied? What do we truly require to be our best selves? My answer: less than I thought.
While the quarantine left plenty of challenges in its wake, this is one I hope I can continue to meet. I hope I can live more simply from now on. I hope I can keep my sights on the fact that a thing doesn’t need to be complicated to be special. One day at a time, one hour at a time, one step at a time–We can let ourselves stop and breath. We can look at the world right under our feet and be enchanted.
Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.Henry David Thoreau, Walden