I learned about “microjoys” from the book Microjoys: Finding Hope (Especially) When Life Is Not Okay.
Author Cyndie Spiegel (below) describes a microjoy as “a lotus flower resurrected out of mud”.
She also says, “Microjoys are the hidden wisdom, long-ago memories, subtle treasures, and ordinary delights that surround us: A polka-dot glass on a thrift store shelf. A dear friend’s kindness at just the right time. The neighborhood spice shop. A beloved family tradition. The simple quietude of being in love. A cherished chai recipe.”
I love this concept, and I love the book.
Spiegel wrote it during a super-difficult period of her life, when she was grieving the loss of two family members.
The book is direct, real, gritty, wonderful, inspiring and very, very accessible, especially if you’ve been paralyzed by grief at times, while still wanting to truly live and experience joy.
I could say much, much more… but you should just read the book if it sounds like it’s for you.
The microjoy that inspired this post was a seagull in the window of a hotel in Inverness. We were on a much-anticipated trip to Scotland and England to celebrate our 15th anniversary, and had a little time after a tour of a scotch distillery to rest in our hotel room before heading out for dinner and more adventures.
The first thing I did was open the window. The conventional wisdom is that it’s always cold in Scotland, especially waaaay up north like we were in Inverness, but OUR wisdom is that we absolutely have to open the windows to get a non-air conditioned hotel room cool enough for our AC-accustomed bodies from Texas.
We were right on the River Ness.
There were seagulls galore. A social bunch they were, soaring and diving, shrieking and laughing, hopping and scrounging, checking out each other’s snacks, bobbing on the surface, gossiping and talking about the weather.
An Immediate Friend
As soon as I opened the window in the hotel room, a gull landed on the sill, checking us out.
I was captivated!
A Fan-Girl for Seagulls
I’ve always loved seagulls, having grown up at the beach in Southeast Texas, with many, many fond memories of good times on various boats and beaches, featuring hot dogs and swimming, coconut-scented tanning oil (back when that was a thing), the smell of seaweed and the happy music of gulls, hovering and swooping, hoping for a tidbit, but seemingly content just to coast and glide on the wind.
Another association is Jonathan Livingston Seagull, the book, which my parents read, loved and quoted, often. I think they saw it as a marriage of individualism, which my mother was almost religious about, and Christianity (because of a rebirth theme), which they were both very religious about. I was too young to explore the nuances of its meaning for them, and they’re gone over the rainbow now, but their enthusiasm imprinted on me as an appreciation of seagulls and the freedom of expression they represent.
Nessie Enjoyed Her Photo Shoot
I spent about ten minutes photographing our Inverness seagull, who I named Nessie (wouldn’t you?). Nessie quickly got comfortable and stood on one leg, peering into our room.
“Got snacks?” she seemed to be saying.
Nessie decided to stay for awhile, and tucked her leg into her feathers, giving me the side-eye just in case there were some crumbs coming her way.
She let me get close and didn’t startle as I moved around to get different angles and closeups. She gave me various poses and then finally settled into a watchful nap-stance.
I was sooooo tempted to break open the shortbread cookies that are always, always, always on offer in hotel rooms in Scotland to give Nessie a treat as payment for posing, but I imagined alarms going off and getting evicted for encouraging scroungers, so I refrained. But it was hard, my friends. I mean, look at that face!!!
Photographing Nessie, interacting with her and gazing into her beady but wise-looking eyes was a microjoy. I felt connected to that tiny being, connected to my parents, connected to the River Ness down below, connected to Scotland, connected to the Grill-Meister who was watching, bemused, and blessed to be in that place, at that time, having that experience.
It’s the little things.
© Glover Gardens, 2023