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What I Live For: All the Little Things

A good strong cup of coffee at the Kamakura Farmers Market.
Satya Robyn, a talented and prolific writer out of the UK, periodically poses a question or idea for writers to respond to that is often related to a recent book of her own. I participated in this global conversation previously when I wrote about my most beautiful thing. It was fun and thought-provoking, and helped me find the motivation I needed just then to get back to work in the garden.

Satya's most recent group write answering the question "What do you live for?" took place on Friday, May 10th. It clashed with my weekly publication of the Tokyo farmers market schedule, so it got pushed back. Those growers and producers and customers need each other more than I need to post on time. Now, however, the new week is underway. Time to share what I live for.

This question turned out to be a bit more difficult than I anticipated. When I really sat down to think about what it was that I live for, what gets me out of bed or puts the spring in my step, it was difficult to pin it down. My beloved spouse is an obvious choice and goes without saying. Writing and farming are the other two, of course, that I think about most, that I wake up in the night with ideas and worries about that I have to jot down before they disappear. But somehow those didn't seem like exactly the right answer, either.

I think what I really live for, other than the aforementioned, are the other moments. Like when the sky turns a certain shade of orange with blue gray clouds rippling through it or when I have a particularly good conversation with friends, old or new. Then there's the hour spent with a good book. The well-turned phrase, whether in a poem or an essay by Joan Didion or a chapter on beneficial soil bacteria, can make me catch my breath. And let's not forget the pure pleasure of a bubbling pot of jars bright with jam or pickles, the smell of a new recipe cooking away, the pleasure of the experiment and even the taste of failure.

And there's more. The satisfaction of working a new knitting pattern in fresh yarn or a favorite color. A walk in the woods or a mountain hike. Summer bike rides and new vistas and old vistas and deep snow and spring flowers and prairie grass golden in the fall and rhubarb's bright red fist next to the yellow crocus and blueberries fresh from the bush. A good run, a strong cup of coffee. The look, feel, and sound of the pen on this page. (I wrote this out long-hand early this morning with that strong coffee next to me on the table.) Phone calls with my parents and playing with cats. Good beer by a friends wood stove and board games with another one's two sons. Old photographs of family and that bittersweet feeling they always leave behind. The geranium blossom and a bird landing on the balcony rail. The neighbor's cat in the window watching the bird. Scrabble with Grandma and bonfires on the hill. Sharp cheddar cheese and my mother's ginger snaps.

The list is clearly endless. The bees in the norabo blossoms and laughing with my farmers as we work. Learning a new word. There isn't just one thing that I live for, but rather it's the whole of life in all its glorious color and texture. I live for all of it, all of those things that appear like pretty shells and stones on the beach after each roll of the waves. I have my dark days, of course, but I realize now that I'm surrounded by a beauty so rich and varied that I'm smiling as I write. (And again as I type out these words.) On and on it goes, and I'm so grateful for them all and all the things I can't write here because, Reader, you'd fall asleep. So, before I give in and carry one with my list, what is it, Reader, that you live for?


Unknown said…
Beautiful post Joan. And I think I'd agree!

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