Sometimes, you need to stop and take a deep breath. I’m very, very bad at this. I’m very much the Type-A, borderline-neurotic, incredibly insecure “do-er.” I will go and go and do so many things and pour so much of myself into tasks and crusades. I forced myself into one of the mental breaks yesterday. It was a beautiful, bright sunny day and my dog had been cooped up in the apartment for most of the week.
I need sunshine, she needed some time doing dog things, off a leash and in the fresh air.
I swear the sun shines brighter in Kansas City than in Illinois. The sky seems more blue. Maybe it’s because I’m not living under the fog of air pollution from Chicago. Or maybe I’m just far enough south that I really do get more sun exposure here.
Did you know that, when let off her leash, a female longhair Dachshund may startle herself by running through leaves without realizing they’d make sound? And that after she got over the surprise, she’d come to enjoy the leaf-crunching? These remarkable little dogs also have a tendency to make friends with everyone.
The Missouri River winds back and forth across the northern part of Kansas City. Around mid-afternoon in mid-November, the sun takes just the right angle to reflect off the river just enough to make it look like molten silver in some places.
I’ve always been a sucker for sunsets. A good sunset will make this indescribable feeling in my chest, like I’m part of something so big and beautiful. I’ve felt that way about sunsets since I can remember; and I love to document them. I have more photos of gorgeous sunsets with no major significance than I can count. But each and every colorful display across the sky is a promise of another day, holding the potential for many more small wonders. And the view of the sunset from the park by my apartment? Whether by luck or intervention by a higher power, I ended up with the best sunset view in Kansas City. It’s like the Powers That Be knew I’d need that soul-cleansing view.
There’s small traces of profound beauty in the world all around us. It isn’t just aesthetic, either. There are feelings and actions that can be considered small wonders. A stranger holding the door for you, or offering a smile. While I’m a firm believer that each and every one of us has a unique battle we fight each and every day, I also believe deeply in a quote by Anne Frank. “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.” I think it’s true; look around at small random acts of kindness in the world today. It sometimes seems like everything is going to Hell, there are still bankers who rescue baby ducks from scary heights, there are still people dropping change into Salvation Army buckets throughout the holidays, and there are still farmers dropping everything during the busiest time of the year to help a friend in dire need during cancer treatment.
People, inherently, are a wonder in their own way. There are few things I appreciate as much as learning a new friend’s quirks, because people are such complex works of art.
(Another small wonder just occurred as I’ve been writing this post. You know that feeling of empowerment when all the right songs are on the radio? I’m 3-for-3 on the perfect songs for writing this post. It’s just another example of the small ways we can find beauty in the world around us!)
As you go about your week, preparing for Thanksgiving or continuing business as usual, be conscious of these small wonders. Take a moment to revel in a sense of gratitude. For all the horror and badness that tends to happen in our world, there sure is a lot of beauty to take in as well. And perhaps the most beautiful “small wonder” of all is the human capacity to recognize and appreciate these things.
I know, for me, it’s made all the difference.
What small wonders have you taken time to appreciate lately? What simple things in life stir your soul and refresh you?