It’s somehow mid-May and I am NOT prepared haha. My teaching semester ended in a lovely whirlwind, wedding season is HERE, and she is not being subtle about it!

But listen, I know I haven’t been here on the ol’ blog in a while…and I need you to know that it has nothing to do with how much I think of things I desperately want to tell you—musings I’m dying to share, questions I feel a deep pull to ask aloud.

As per usual, there’s a bandwidth issue.

But I can’t leave you hanging without your monthly Deep Dive!

Today, I want to share some thoughts about the little things. The beautiful little treasures peeking out amidst unassuming moments.

I’ve been thinking a LOT lately about what these moments are for me…and in fact, I have another, related essay knocking at my brain door asking to come OUT—so look for that little dude sometime next week.

For now, I’ll just say that as I’ve made a concerted effort to spend more time looking for life’s sneaky nothings, I feel like I’ve begun to unlock a whole new skill set.

And as I listened back to April’s Artifice episodes, I heard my guests sharing some observational dexterities of their own…

It comes as no surprise to me that Emily looks for hidden wonders—we’ve been bonding over this sort of thing for years.

As a little aside, here…recently, Emily and I were having a late-night phone chat, and when I asked why she wasn’t responding quite as much as she usually does (i.e. bro, are you falling asleep? what’s happening over there?), she revealed the whimsical fact that she was simply taking notes. 💁‍♀️ Naturally.

I wish I could explain how gleeful this revelation felt to me. We weren’t talking about anything particularly profound, but because Emily is the kind of person who’s always looking for connections, for tidbits, for anything that might move a needle on life’s puzzliest puzzles…she was able to hear something interesting, even during a meandering, chit-chatty phone call.

But you know – she practices! This is a practice.

In our interview, Emily shared that she spends a lot of energy collecting “raw materials”—photos, videos, notes, recordings—throughout her daily adventures. She’s not always sure what she’ll do with everything she gathers, or exactly what it all could mean, but she’s learned to trust the instincts she has, and she’s learned to look more creatively, and more closely than many of us would.

I’m absolutely certain there’s power there. And I can’t wait to see what she finds.

Bryan and I got a little lofty (my favorite) as we talked about art as a vehicle for empathy. I believe this premise so deeply, myself. It feels SO BIG to me. So powerful.

And Bryan also reminded me that these powers can be employed guerilla-style in life’s minutia.

He calls it “small acts of art”—like leaving a note or a drawing in your child’s lunchbox. Just the tiniest, most-radical little beauty bombs.

I want to live in this ethos. I want to get it all over me.

Can you imagine what this could do?

Similarly, Olga shared her childhood habit of collecting bits of lace from old clothing, or beads from a broken piece of jewelry, and using these little finds to create extravagant costumes for her Barbie dolls.

I think there’s something so interesting here…

It’s a resourcefulness. It’s a creative action with no immediate application. It’s…a vision of something you can’t even quite picture, yet—but you can feel that it’s going to be special. Does that make sense?

A little scrap of lace is nothing, really. It could land atop a garbage pile with nary a whiff of ceremony, no sense of loss. It takes an act of creative faith to hold onto a tiny nothing—envisioning a whole workshop of riches you can then craft into something special. That scrap of lace is nothing until it’s next to a swatch of discarded velvet, a few stray beads, a lonely button. But picturing a collection before it exists…what even IS that?

I think I agree with Olga that it’s “just that need to make something pretty.”

If the need is there, like an ache, you can’t help but picture any little thing as an ingredient in that eventual reality.

Certainly, that need leads to a different sort of vigilance. If you’re looking for beauty, you’re bound to find it. You’ll weave it out of thin air, if you need to.

You’ll find it in a conversation. You’ll find it in your daily chores. You’ll find it in odds and ends.

You will summon the raw materials you need to realize your vision.

And you’re bound to discover new visions, in the process.

What small acts of art have you engaged in, lately? What ideas do you have?



P.S. Here’s an exceedingly low rainbow from last Friday! 🌈

The Littlest Things