Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cruelty, irony and the dew of little things

Peacock roosting • Fountain of Youth

The poet T.S. Eliot called April the cruellest month, and last week was one of the cruellest weeks. As The Onion put it, with heartfelt irony,

“‘Seriously, can we wrap this up already?’ Maryland resident James Alderman told reporters, echoing the thoughts of all 311 million Americans, who have just about reached their weekly goddamned quota for carnage, misery, confusion, heartbreak, and rage. ‘Because, you know, I’m pretty sure we’ve all had our hearts ripped out of our chests and stomped on enough times for one seven-day period, thank you very much.’”

Sometimes it hurts so much, irony is the only balm. None took it harder last week than our friends and former neighbors in New England, and no one knows irony like a Boston Red Sox fan. They reacted with the stoic, get-it-done attitude the region is known for, but Boston and the marathon will never be quite the same.

Dennis & Deanne with Pearl, their 1950s Traveleze, newly wired
Because the cruelty is just too much to comprehend, you find yourself turning to the little things for comfort: the runners who stopped mid-stride to help; the young man who described the suspects from his bed in intensive care; the 78-year-old, blown over by the bomb’s impact, who climbed to his feet, finished the race and walked back to his hotel.

One of my mother’s favorite quotations came from Kahlil Gibran. My friend Mary wrote it on my card on my 18th birthday and I typed it on my mom’s funeral program when I was 52:

And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

Trekker Trailers first tiny house, built by Andrew Bennett
Yes, it is the little things that get you through. Last week, small reminders kept popping up: a dinner of perfectly spiced Indian food with friends followed by a compelling play at my daughter’s high school; more great reviews for my friend Laura Smith’s new book; our friends flying up to New York to surprise their daughter at her high school concert in Lincoln Center; jamming into our friends’ vintage trailer when they stopped by our house in the rain to show off the new wiring that brought new life to the old lights.

Tour train ticket booth “train station”
All week long, little visual vignettes made me smile too: a Facebook post of the tiny house my friend just completed; the cutest home of all time that I spotted driving through North City in St. Augustine; a peacock with feathers draped over the wall at the Fountain of Youth; the fake miniature train station uptown that looks more real than an actual train station; a raccoon brazenly strolling past the engines in the firehouse parking lot in St. Augustine Shores at mid-day.

There is a reason we like tiny things, revel in irony and watch kittens frolic on YouTube. The little things remind us of our riches, distract us from our demons and let us live and laugh in the moment.

After all, Eliot gave us The Waste Land, but he also gave us Cats
The cutest house ever • North City

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