Or…small things for weary hearts
Today I was playing on a beach with my small child. The wind was pushing all around us, with the waves occasionally spitting foam at the bit of beach where we were failing to build sandcastles. It was lovely.
As we were there, he started to collect water from a rockpool, pouring it into a lopsided hole he’d dug. The water drained away immediately, he’d sigh and harumph and plod back down to the rock pool with a big smile on his face.
Three year olds do that. They find a small ritual which makes them happy, and do it again and again. It’s hypnotic to watch. Unless you’re in a hurry, in which case it’s finger-bitingly frustrating.
When travelling, it can be hard to reach your usual ways to find calmness. Baths are often not an option, and your sofa might be thousands of miles away. Finding small habits in big places can be a good way to create a grounding moment when you’ve run out of the energy to be an intrepid explorer.
My personal favourite tiny ritual is arranging stones or shells. It works as a parent, as small person can either help me find pretty specimens, or pootle next to me pretending to be a bear or a badger or whatever animal he’s channelling that minute. Sitting on the cold ground and making patterns with things around me is a perfect way to take a moment to just be, something I really struggle with.
Try to look at your experience here as a mandala, Chapman. Work hard to make something as meaningful and beautiful as you can. And when your done, pack it in and know it was all temporary.
Yoga Jones in Orange is the New Black
Other tiny rituals could be listing all the things which have made you happy in the past 24 hours. It could be walking around a park and picking up fallen flowers, then twisting them into a bouquet for someone else to find. Draw pictures in sand. Run your fingers over bark, crunch through leaves or spend half an hour staring blankly at a stained glass window.
Tiny rituals shouldn’t be broadcast. They’re not for anyone else: they’re for you. Sometimes sharing them (which I’ve done, and do, because that’s how we do it now, right?) dilutes the magic of creating or experiencing something small and beautiful and then walking away.
Arranging shells on a beach might not help you win prizes, or get a job, or that Instagram post which pings you to the next level. But it might be the tiny ritual which adds essential fuel to your fire. When the world is too big, and your guidebook too overwhelming, look down and think smaller.