The Little Things

Hello, library friends,

I don’t know if the same is true for you, but I feel overloaded. Overwhelmed. Like a string stretched taut.  I feel like nothing I’m doing is enough.  And then, I open up the library’s Facebook page and stumble over a poem that’s making the rounds.  A poem that feels like it’s been written just for me.  I don’t know for certain who the author is, but it’s credited to Elena Mikhalkova.  Mikhalkova appears to be a popular Russian writer of detective and thriller novels.  Or, maybe it’s someone with the same name.  I was able to find the poem written in Russian, but I’m still not certain of its origin (though it does seem to have been written recently).  In any case, the sentiment feels so good, so necessary right now, that I wanted to offer it here. 

The Room of Ancient Keys
by Elena Mikhalkova

Grandma once gave me a tip:

During difficult times,
you move forward in small steps.
Do what you have to do, but little by little.
Don’t think about the future,
not even what might happen tomorrow.
Wash the dishes.
Take off the dust.
Write a letter.
Make some soup.
Do you see?
You are moving forward step by step.
Take a step and stop.
Get some rest.
Compliment yourself.
Take another step.
Then another one.
You won’t notice, but your steps will grow
bigger and bigger.
And time will come
when you can think about the future
without crying.
Good morning.

It’s difficult to slow down, isn’t it?  Our whole lives, we’ve been taught to run, to reach, to grasp, and never ever to stop.   Now, there’s nothing to reach for.  So, we create things to reach for – redecorating the house until we could invite Martha Stewart to tea, writing the long-dreamt-of novel, starting an Internet-based side business selling homemade whatsits, designing and building the backyard shed, cooking complicated gourmet meals and posting the perfectly-lit photos on Instagram….  But wait – is this really the time? 

Like an army of Atlases, we’re all carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders right now.  Should we really be piling on more?  Should we be giving ourselves an opportunity to feel guilty for not getting enough done?  For many of us, no one else is expecting all that much of us, right now.  No one but ourselves.  There’s no race, but we can’t seem to stop running.  Maybe, just for the moment, taking care of ourselves and our loved ones is enough.  Maybe, homemade gnocchi with sage butter sauce and a spicy beet salad with black tea dressing isn’t really any better than a simple, nourishing soup.  Maybe, we don’t need to prepare for Martha’s visit.  Facetiming with far-away loved ones doesn’t require deep cleaning the drapes and creating centerpieces out of birchbark.  Maybe, we can give ourselves a break.  Just for now.

Just for now, turn off the news.  Just for now, focus on something small.  Make the bed.  Take the dog for a walk.  Water the houseplants.  Journal.  And then, let yourself feel at ease.  You’re okay.  Right now, in this moment, you’re okay.  And your houseplants are okay, too. 

I miss you all, and I hope we can all meet back at the library very soon.

Stay well,

P.S. I know I promised resources on writing, and those are forthcoming (really!), but today’s post just bubbled to the top.