You might say that small living has become my overarching philosophy over the past few years. By small I do not mean insular, but being deliberate in learning to live from the true self. The belief that this mindful way of life can transform us and have a ripple effect is why I started this online space, if only to document for myself tiny beginnings.
It began with realizing that many of the people I admired lived with an almost singular focus or were confined to a small geographic area whether by choice or circumstance. I was overjoyed to read Kyo Maclear’s Birds, Art, Life: A Year of Observation and see her extensive list of non-movers and shakers and how they yet managed to influence the world positively just by being themselves. Many of them were on my own personal list but quite a few I had not considered.
Here are some of the folks on my list, but I absolutely recommend Maclear’s book for further reflection.
*Emily Dickinson (naturally) who despite being what we may now refer to as agoraphobic, through her love of words became one of the most beloved poets of all time.
* Wilson Bentley, who studied snowflakes exclusively. He was laughed at by fellow Vermonters for being passionate about something they viewed as common. What a wealth of knowledge he left to us about the science and wonder of snow.
* Rosa Parks, who started a movement by simply refusing to sit down. Her inner strength inspired thousands to find the same within themselves which led to a peaceful revolution in our country.
* John Constable, artist who painted numerous scenes of clouds contributing to a good deal of our current meteorological knowledge.
* Frederich Froebel, whose highly focused work as a crystallographer led to his discoveries about how children learn. He became the inventor of what we now know as Kindergarten.
* Maud Lewis, beloved Canadian painter who lived and worked in the same area for her entire life. She was severely disabled but said that “as long as she had a brush in her hand, she was alright.”
* Matsuo Basho, the master of the diminutive Japanese poetry form of Haiku. The poems reflect the majesty of nature in a few simple words.
*Tasha Tudor, children’s artist and illustrator. She lived very regionally beginning in New Hampshire and ended in Vermont. Her focus was building a peaceful life. She did not set out to be an influencer, but her way of embracing the beautiful all around her has touched countless others.
It can be difficult to identify one particular passion or vocation that guides us, particularly if we have been in survival mode for a long while. The path to restoration requires that we open ourselves to becoming present and honest. But once we experience even a tiny bit of clarity we will likely want to continue regaining health.
The call to our true selves so often starts as something so insignificant and quiet that it is easy to miss if we are not paying attention. Sometimes circumstances force us to align our lives in the right way but it is better when we listen to the silence and surrender.
May we listen to the the quiet call and follow it.