The older I get the more I realize that sometimes the only way to really understand something is to just sit with it for awhile. It’s a quiet sort of thing, so different from the logical approach and gargantuan analytical effort of my academic days. Some things have to come in through the heart though, and it’s hard to make headway with them any other way. This struck me when I happened across a quotation by William Morris last week.
“The secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.” – William Morris
If I had read that five years ago while I was in graduate school and studying the Arts & Crafts movement in Europe and America, I would have been confused. What details of daily life? You mean the lunch I didn’t have time to eat since I had a pile of readings to finish before class that night? Laundry? I’m sure I did it, but I have no recollection of it at all during those years.
If I had read that two years ago, I would have reflected on it as a goal. Life in Italy had already slowed me down and captured my attention. While hanging laundry below a 12th-century bell tower in Italy, it’s kind of hard not to take more interest in the details of daily life. Learning to cook Italian was slowly transforming the way I thought about food and cooking, and every day I fell in love a little more with every part of my new life.
Last Thursday when I read that quotation by Morris for the first time, it struck me as immediately true and sent off a warm vibration that resonated deep within in chest. This isn’t something I could have understood five years ago, but I felt that it was something I’ve been looking for my entire life. Yesterday on my birthday I thought that perhaps I’ve been sitting with it for 32 years now. My heart was finally open and ready. I went out to the garden early yesterday morning while it was still cool and the birds were singing in the shade. I knelt down and smiled when I saw there were a few ripe raspberries ready to be picked. I gently twisted them off and rested them in my palm, and then went back inside to make cappuccino and breakfast.
Three sweet raspberries on my yogurt. They would be gone in moments, but their existence was a little treasure.