The accumulated joy of small steps . . .

We were just chatting this morning, waking up with our daily word games, about the joys of a daily activity, whether that little step is poetic, journal, memoir, or something more physical like a small knitted square or another sorting exercise.

One of us has been a fan of Brian Bilston‘s daily poems for some time; the other is fed intermittent snippets which are invariably a delight. One of us diarised a daily journal of life in our community, with helpful contributions of thoughts and comments. Both of these sorts of efforts could eventually be collated into a compendium of a year’s output, a book to hold in your hand.

Whether daily journal entries, or delightful poems, the accumulation of small steps can eventually become a complete journey

The point is to start and never stop. There are times, really rather more than you might think, when one’s overwhelming feeling is of fatalistic despair: what, one might wonder, is the point of carrying on with this or that project?

But each small step accrues. Even when nobody seems to be listening, the joy accumulates. I get more kudos for the Allendale Diary these days than I ever did when the project was slowly moving along; realisation has arrived that the project was an instructive social history of a special time in the life of a village. I’m embarked on another similar project, this time a twenty year history of the activities of our philanthropic service club, compressing each year of the club’s lifespan into a single month of blog entries. A similar sort of hiatus of interest is happening — after a flurry of delight, the response has turned into a deafening silence. I’m left to my own devices, wondering if the project is really going to be worthwhile.

Well, we shall see; you’d be surprised how much joy even a small note of appreciation can elicit, and lately I’ve been the delighted recipient of such notes from out of the blue. I tell myself that I must continue to seek out the joy in the small steps that I can actually do, the little entries that I know, in my heart, could accumulate into a social treasure by the time all the steps have been completed.

I like poetry, like composing it, like reading it. But I could never force out a poem a day like Brian Bilston does. I can, however, work for a year on daily musings and prosaic thoughts.

And so, because I can, I do, and the joy comes along for free.

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