The other morning I passed a lady fumbling for keys in her bag to open her little manicure shop on Mass Ave. We exchanged a quick smile and I felt my heart swell with appreciation:

  • The fact that she’d gotten out of bed.
  • That she’d showered and fixed herself up.
  • That here she was, showing up for another day of business, no matter how busy or slow, good or bad, it might turn out in the end.

It got me thinking about all the little things, all the ways in which people—you, me, that lady—show up for life.

Those things I used to take for granted? I’m noticing them. I’m loving them. And, this seems to be getting worse.

That’s right: worse as in, it’s spreading. In fact, I think it’s contagious.

The main symptom? Simple joys.

Like goat milk in my morning tea. (The milk I sometimes refer to as my a-buck-a-sip milk). And I should say goat milk in the best-ever-tea. (Yorkshire Gold, if you must know, of which my sister sent me three big boxes for my birthday).

Things like arm muscles growing more defined, not from any health club membership like I used to have, but from walking home a mile or so from the market several times a week, balancing, among red cabbage, lemons, kale, cheese, chocolate and bread, yes: that half-gallon of buck-a-sip goat milk.

The bright fire-orange reusable bags I fold up and carry around with me.

The city park I walk through with its birds and its marsh. Its benches and bunnies. Its frogs and its ever-changing-trees. Its kids and their moms and their dads and their soccer coaches with British accents and lovely tight tushies. And my running track and my walking paths, including a glassphalt path made of smooshed up, recycled, colored glass mixed into black asphalt. Ahhhh, Danehy Park. I love you.

The light of the moon on said sparkly path.

I could go on, I’m sure.

Lately, my pared down life keeps returning me to one simple question:

What is essential?

I love that question. It helps me find the heart of a matter.

It cuts through overwhelm with pruning shears of kindness. It gets rid of clutter to find the smooth surface of my kitchen table, the sweet comfort of my heart, and a mind that incubates all manner of ideas.

Yesterday, going about my business, I started playing with the words “Less is less,” singing them to the catchy tune of “Black is black,” by Los Bravos:

Less is less, a skimpy, sexy dress
More is more, one more thing of bore and chore.
What can I do? Cuz I-ayayayayay, I’m feeling new.

I know, cheesy. But hey.

Less and essential make room for bursts of unabashed laughter. For joy. Followed by quiet, in which to notice sounds, like the plaintive call of mourning doves. Like the neighborhood boys’ basketball bouncing in the park. Like the church chimes on the quarter hour. Like my visiting friend’s breathing while he sleeps.

Sounds a whole lot like just what I need.

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