Tuesday, June 23, 2020

"The Way of the Small"--Smack Dab in the Imagination by Dia Calhoun

The Way of the Small, Why Less is truly More by Michael Gellert, is a small, wonderful book that gave me me insight not only into better ways to live, but also into the creative writing process:

"The way of the small is very much an attention to details. This is not only because details consist of the small or intricate workings of things, but also because if you pursue an understanding of the details of any situation or phenomenon, eventually you will come to glimpse its essential nature. It is this possibility to contact the essence of things that makes the attention to details central to the way of the small. . . . Any essential ruling principle, for better or worse, finds its expression in the details. . . . Details are the stuff of life."  (p61)

This is why we writers must use concrete details to explicate our ideas. And this is why the details of how we organize our day, make up the bigger picture of our lives.

In these Covidian Times, when our lives feel as though they are smaller because we have fewer choices, I need to find the strength in being smaller, not the weakness. I find Gellert's advice to be small-and-smart a helpful guide to reorient myself and my imagination.I  need to choose the right, few details to build my life around. Gellert suggests attending to and celebrating the right details. As he points out, this is radically different  advice from the "Don't sweat the small stuff." Rather, "Make the small things sweat for you."

 I can do this--as a writer and artist, I do thisall the time. Now I want to use those same imaginative powers I've developed to find the most essential, vital way to live.

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