It’s a small life we’re after, minnows in a pond, a donkey beside a ruined house. Most miss it—the sure knowledge that finding is not altaic. The poet says, “let’s be small together,” and the 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 it also turns toward aloneness. We are children looking into the shallows. We stand at windows and draw our names on the cold panes. If we’re lucky no adult comes to say we’ve smudged the glass.
A small life “is” absolute decree. It’s enough. And since the soul knows this it grieves for the adult who it must accompany as she’s compelled to go to human resources meetings, endure the social frostbite of politics and all 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 fly to independence? Well, too often to count.
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: “My best Acquaintances are those/With Whom I spoke no Word”
Finger at a window…