Well, the world looks very different to how it did when I started planning this post. How is everyone holding up? I’ve had my moments of despair and I fully expect more on the way. At first I didn’t see the point of posting anything but then I realised maybe this post is more important than it was before.
I am a big fan of William Morris, who was born 186 years ago tomorrow. I grew up in a house surrounded by his patterns and as I got older I appreciated his beliefs more and more.
I think some of his most famous quotes are relevant now, especially my favourite: “The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.”
All of us have had our lives drastically changed and curtailed, and will do so even more in the near future – probably for a long time to come. I was telling my eight year old son the other day (how do you explain all this to a child?) that he should focus on enjoying the things he can do rather than obsessing about the things he can’t. That’s hard and obviously I don’t manage it myself all, or even most, of the time. But as my life becomes more limited, as my area to roam shrinks to my house and garden, I notice all the details of it with more vivid intensity.
I was in a park a week ago and I smelled a horse. What a wonderfully evocative smell! It took me back to my childhood at a riding stable in Essex with my grandparents and learning to muck out at Deen City Farm.
The other night I was getting something from the car boot and the air was completely still, the sky a perfect dark inky blue and the birds were singing. I sat on the doorstep for a few moments soaking it in.
Not all of the details of my everyday life are so calm and quiet. I am currently in self-isolation with two children. But as I said on this day last year, children are a great example of taking an interest in all the details of daily life – I learn a lot from them. How everything stops for a perfect stick. How they question the things we just accept. How my son has spent days on end designing and building the perfect paper aeroplane.
Whatever we are missing at the moment we still have daily lives full of small details. And I find the idea that taking an interest in them is the true secret of happiness extremely comforting.