The past week or so, the same message arrived through a variety of sources: in an email sent by a friend, a poem stumbled upon on instagram, a notice of a museum exhibition. It said, “Look closely at ordinary things and in doing that, slow down, be more HERE.”
It started with Pico Iyer’s tender essay, The Beauty of the Ordinary, in the New York Times. He asks,
How might we be enchanted by discovery’s opposite — routine — and find in constancy a stimulation as rich as novelty provides?
He looks to autumn for the answer,
..we come to see that the season’s special lesson is to cherish everything because it cannot last.
In our own life’s autumn, we are reminded of everything we must not take for granted.
“Vija Celmins: To Fix the Image in Memory” announced the artist’s retrospective at the Met Breuer in New York City. She is known for her deep focus of the quotidian: ocean waves, starry night, a shell, a space heater, a lamp, an envelope… Each painting invites: “Bring your nose close. Let it slow you down.” Like this painting of a shell:
…and a spiderweb, in charcoal, created through erasure…
On instagram, we found a sign by @mindpollutants. Today’s luck included so many things, starting with…waking up.
…with delicious coffee…
…and went from there…to the astonishing Cooper Beech at Wave Hill…
Then came this sunlit W.S. Merwin poem, full of gratitude for small big things…
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Thank you my lifelong afternoon
late in this season of no age
thank you for my windows above the rivers
thank you for the true love you brought me to
when it was time at last and for words
that come out of silence and take me by surprise
and have carried me through the clear day
without once turning to look at me
thank you for friends and long echoes of them
and for those mistakes that were only mine
for the homesickness that guides the young plovers
from somewhere they loved before
they woke into it to another place
they loved before they ever saw it
thank you whole body and hand and eye
thank you for sights and moments known
only to me who will not see them again
except in my mindʻs eye where they have not changed
thank you for showing me the morning stars
and for the dogs who are guiding me