I believe it is often in the smallest details about a person that we best glimpse the whole. I think Amy Palko, too, believes this. She wrote about it before (and inspired me to do the same) and she recently shared this gorgeous quote by Hugh McDiarmid on her blog:
So I have gathered unto myself
All the loose ends of Scotland,
And by naming them and accepting them,
Loving them and identifying myself with them,
Attempt to express the whole.
The loose ends. Oh, I am familiar with loose ends. The loose ends are my life: my son’s ever-blonder summer hair, my daughter’s sleepy goodnight hugs, the stack of books on my bedside table, the outrageous explosion of hydrangeas by the front door, the broken air conditioning, the lines of poetry that run through my head daily, the way light from an indiscernible source illuminates a sunset sky. The loose ends are the endless grains of sand that both imperceptibly and irrevocably add up to the contours of our lives.
We are drawn to these specifics, to the naming and identifying and accepting of what we can, as we search for the grand truths. I for one am always looking, in the small moments of my life, for that whole – for that design so vast. But why is this where we look? In some ways it is counter-intuitive, right? To look down, as it were, to see the universe, all the power and glory that spreads above us, in the cracked shell at our feet on the beach.
These small things – these details, these loose ends – are like portals into the enormity of this life. They are keyholes through which we glimpse that greater reality in which we all exist. This is not a new idea, of course: the poets have been talking about this for centuries and longer, as Blake did with his world in a grain of sand.
But why do we seek the infinite in the defiantly finite? I suspect it is because the whole is so extravagantly huge, so inexpressible, so far beyond the realm of our intellect. It is impossible to draw the logical arms of our minds around the unwieldy, expansive whole. We have no choice but to seek its reflection in the tiniest things, a bit like Plato watching the shadows on the back wall of the cave.
Isn’t that what this blog is about, in many ways? More than anything, I think what I do here is polish the small, jagged stones of my life, startled every now and then when I look again and see the gleam of a gemstone. This is the task of my life: the gathering of loose ends, the loving of them, and the endless, stumbling and imperfect attempt to express the whole.
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