Small and Adventure

Walking home from the local green grocer the other day, my food bag full of fresh vegetables, I noticed a plum tree, its branches covered with tiny red buds just about to burst into bloom. Within a few days, the tree would be a riot of tissue-thin pale-pink blossoms, but today, it was the branches that caught my attention.

I stopped to look at the tree. It wasn’t the first time I had noticed a plum tree at this particular moment in its flowering, but it was the first time I stopped to appreciate fully. As I stood gazing, I realized that not only are the plum trees beautiful both right before and immediately after blooming, but as harbingers of spring, they are uplifting as well. Plum trees are the first trees to burst into flower here in Berkeley, in late winter or early spring, after several months of bare branches and gray, damp days. Seeing them about to bloom reminds us that spring is the next season, and no longer that far off.

Looking up at the tree’s branches, I realized something else. If I weren’t practicing seeing small, I wouldn’t have had this experience. I might have noticed the near-blossoming tree as I made my way home, but I would not have taken the time to stop and admire it.

Even more profound, I realized that since I starting seeing small, every walk is a discovery. Anytime I set out these days, I wonder, What beautiful small moment will I encounter this time? And this wondering transforms even the shortest walk into an adventure.

Yesterday it was a plum tree. Tomorrow it may be someone smiling at me as we pass on the sidewalk. Or saying hello. The exact variety of lovely moment doesn’t matter. What counts is that I first notice it, then pause to appreciate it fully, letting the pleasure or joy the small moment elicits seep into me fully and deeply.

Adventure in Rust


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