It’s a little life we’re after, minnows in a pond, a donkey standing beside a ruined house, oddities of chance, but always with hints of revelation. Most will miss it—the sure knowledge that discovery is small and not altaic. The poet says, “let’s be small together,” and the sweet soul takes some comfort.
Emily Dickinson wrote:
How happy is the little stone
That rambles in the road alone,
And doesn’t care about careers,
And exigencies never fears;
Whose coat of elemental brown
A passing universe put on;
And independent as the sun,
Associates or glows alone,
Fulfilling absolute decree
In casual simplicity.
When the soul’s diary tends to smallness and insignificance it also turns toward aloneness. We were children alone looking into the shallows. We stood at windows and drew our names on the chilled panes. If we were lucky no adult came along to say we were dirtying the glass. There were no exigencies, no arbitrary pressures to absorb or assuage.
A small life is absolute decree. It’s enough. And as the soul knows this, it grieves for the adult who it must accompany; it sorrows; hurts because she’s compelled to go to human resources meetings, endure the social frostbite of grownup politics and all their mordant habituations. How many meetings have I attended where I’ve thought: “there isn’t an ounce of life in this room” and wished I could don the mantle of the universe and fly to independence? Well, too often to count.
A little life. The magnanimity of less and less. Soul says—Once I aspired to tallness like the oak…now it’s magenta seeds I’m after…
Emily Dickinson again: “My best Acquaintances are those/With Whom I spoke no Word”
Small life needs nothing of the tongue or ventriloquism. Finger at a window…