#174: Nothing Too Small

Black and white of desk. Keyboard, spiral fossil, broken spoon, Mary Oliver's Felicity.
Troy, MI

I’m half a day behind again, it seems. I certainly feel that way – behind. This week I’ve been recovering from a cold, packing to move again, and doing work on something I hope to share with you soon. In the meantime, I wanted to riff on a poem I’ve been thinking about, by the adjective-defying Mary Oliver:

Nothing is Too Small Not to Be Wondered About

The cricket doesn’t wonder if there’s a heaven or, if there is, if there’s room for him.

It’s fall. Romance is over. Still, he sings. If he can, he enters a house through the tiniest crack under the door. Then the house grows colder.

He sings slower and slower. Then, nothing.

This must mean something, I don’t know what. But certainly it doesn’t mean he hasn’t been an excellent cricket all his life.

It’s that last sentence that does me in. Oliver could’ve written the line without the double negative, but it’s exactly the negatives that reinforce the undeniability of the statement – of course he’s been an excellent cricket. How would a cricket not be a cricket?

And with this emphasis, there is room for epiphany – for her epiphany, while considering the life of the cricket, and our own epiphany, while considering her words. The poem is about how we can be so accepting of things outside of us – of crickets being crickets, and roses being roses – yet so hard on ourselves. We’ll see our quirks and foibles as unnatural mistakes, needing to be corrected, so that we may be considered good, granted passage to heaven. When really, they’re just us being excellent at being human beings.

“Nothing is too small to be wondered about” because everything, anything, even a cricket, can show us who we are.