When I write you each month there are times I don’t know what I will say. Then I ask myself what I need to hear at this time. What advice or inspiration do I want to hear? What do I need to practice? It’s then that my message comes to me.
No matter how I looked for something profound, I kept returning to what may sound simple.
I received a note from a friend this week. I only get to see her a couple of times a year but I love being with her wit, intelligence, humor, and heart. She lost her husband to brain cancer a few years ago. Her three kids are the same ages as mine. She tells me I’m an inspiration to her, but it’s she who is an inspiration to me.
She reminded me that I had given her a book this past summer that made an enormous impression on her. She wrote that she recently gave another copy of that exact book to a friend whose son had just been placed in a psychiatric Intensive Care Unit as a result of his intent to harm himself.
She ordered the book to the family. The family was so moved by the book that they obtained permission for the boy to keep it in the ICU where he is otherwise allowed nothing.
The book is called The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy. If you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to do so. If you have read it, you already know it’s good to read it again.
It’s a story about four different and unlikely friends — the boy, the mole, the fox, and the horse — who meet along the way, each uniquely sharing their fears, hurts, friendship, and kindness.
The book is for everyone from eight to eighty as the author accurately shares within its first pages.
I read the book again this week. You can finish it in one sitting. As I did, I jotted down parts of the conversation between the unsuspecting friends who spoke to me. I wanted to share some of those with you in the event that they might speak to you too.
“One of our greatest freedoms is how we react to things.”
“Isn’t it odd? We can only see our outsides, but nearly everything happens on the inside.”
“Being kind to yourself is one of the greatest kindnesses.”
“Sometimes we all feel lost.”
“The truth is we are all just winging it.”
“Everyone is a bit scared, but we are less scared together.”
“‘What is the bravest thing you’ve ever said,’ asked the boy. ‘Help,’ said the horse.”
“When have you been at your strongest?” asked the boy. “When I have dared to show my weakness.”
“Life is difficult but you are loved.”
“Nothing beats kindness.”
“We are here to love and be loved.”
“When the big things feel out of control, focus on what you love right under your nose.”
Their conversation is simple — and profound. (Turns out those characteristics aren’t mutually exclusive.)
Unfortunately too often we humans tend to value the things that are big, complex, difficult, or grandiose.
We miss the magic of the small, easy, and simple exchanges in our everyday interactions. The things that are truly meaningful.
At this time of year, it is particularly easy to allow ourselves to get lost in the hype of big, difficult, and complex. “There’s so much to do,” we tell ourselves. We thereby cultivate the very existence we don’t want. We miss the parts that give life meaning.
This season I am committing to embrace more simplicity. To refrain from making things harder than they need to be and instead to connect more with others. To give a smile to a stranger. Share a favorite book with a friend. Say out loud the compliment I’m thinking in my head. Give my full attention to a child. Call a person who may be in need of a friend. Listen to where my intuition guides me.
In doing so, I know I’ll be in connection with the Divine, myself, and others. This is where life has meaning. This is what really fuels joy.
This week we began the sixth annual holiday drive for homeless students in my town. There currently are over 101 students in K-12 who are without a stable, adequate, or fixed home. We are looking to make sure each one of them goes home with something as they leave school to celebrate the holidays.
I like to think that perhaps their gift will remind them that they are not alone and that they are loved — even by strangers.
Keep it simple. We are all interconnected. Remember that your one small act of kindness may change — or save — a life.
And when life starts to feel heavy or unwieldy this season, I encourage you to open The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse and read a page. I am confident its simplicity and truth will return you to your center and the simplicity you crave.
As the holidays approach, may we set the intention and make the choices to allow for more simplicity, ease, calm, connection, and gratitude for what is right before us.
Sending much love-
P.S. If you’d like to give to students without a home, you can Venmo a donation to @EWTeam or contact me directly to find out more. This year we are qualified to receive corporate gifts and donations from foundations. Thank you!