A Virus Antidote Of Sorts In A Little Book

by Kevin Burton

   The house is more than a little cluttered just now. We’re in the mode of getting stuff out the door. But I found a keeper Wednesday.

   My wife Jeannette put it in the maybe box that I wrote about last month (“The Maybe Box Keeps The Peace At Home,” April 22). That means I had the power to put it in the giveaway box and take it to the secondhand store or keep it.

   Turn back the clock, say to January, 2020, maybe halftime of the Chiefs-49ers Super Bowl, show this to me and I would barely pause before saying absolutely, throw it out.

   But now it’s a keeper.

   The difference? It comes from the virus and the ongoing American national implosion. Those two traumas have done a number on many of us, me included.  I cannot drop absolute blame at the feet of either, for what I have done or not done in the past two years. 

   But they are obviously significant because they brought great uncertainty, with life-or-death consequences, at a time when lies and ignorance like proliferating weeds, threatened to choke off the truth of the times.

   My find is a book. It’s called “The Tiny Book of Tiny Pleasures.”  The authors are Irene Smit and Astrid van der Hulst.  Jeannette said my sister gave it to her.

  The book is about four inches by four inches, but it has almost 400 pages so it’s not what I would call tiny.  It’s the size of a stocking stuffer, if a little heavy for a Christmas stocking. 

   The pleasures listed on its pages, I probably would have dismissed as tiny before the virus.  Now I recognize them as huge, simple but huge.

   God help me, I’ve been so busy surviving, I’ve forgotten how to live. 

   But no, I haven’t completely forgotten. And therein lies that inner conflict that makes the Tiny Book resonate.

   The book is a series of reminders to enjoy the little things in life.  It also contains some interesting lists.

   The challenge is to not just read these things in a book, repeat them on Page 7 and tell you how wonderful they are. The challenge is to go out and live them, some of them anyway. 

   The Tiny Book is a book I hold in my hand. But it’s also a book being written each day by you and by me.  My book will differ from yours and from those in the actual book because we value different things. 

   For example, the book lists as one of the pleasures, “wandering through a new city.” That reminds me of what I used to do when I first got to Puebla, Mexico where I got a job teaching English as a Second Language.

   I used to wander around, seeing what I could see, observing people living their everyday lives.  Then when I got tired I would approach the prettiest woman I saw and ask directions back to where I was staying.

   Tiny pleasures indeed.

  But then the book lists “the world’s most walkable cities,” eight major cities including Boston and New York, the two I have walked through.  I see that list and I hear James Taylor singing, “I guess my feet know where they want me to go…” in his song “Country Road.”

   Define “walkable” for yourself and make your own list.

   I hope I will do the actual walking through this book. Because it would be easy to put the book aside and forget it. 

   Jeannette gave me another smallish book called “Dance While You Still Can” which has the same basic idea, don’t forget to live.  I put it in a prominent place so as not to forget, right in front of the folders that contain blog post written but not yet published.  

   I must have moved the book because it’s not there and I can’t find it. So you see my track record is not so good.

   But I know the book will show up because we are in that cleaning, sorting re-arranging mode. 

   The late great Kenny Rogers said the

secret to surviving is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep. 

  Those words don’t apply just to card games.  That’s why I’m keeping a little book and the smell-the-roses concept it promotes.

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