Monday, July 11, 2016

So Much Smaller Than the Stars, by Anne Nesbet

I know that my task here is to provide a dose of thoughtful writing advice, but this week I find myself at a loss for words.

I have sat here for some hours now, feeling at a loss for words, and while at first I struggled hard against that feeling, because it makes me so anxious and cranky and helpless-in-my-bones, I have decided instead to embrace it for a while.

To embrace (for this moment) the loss of my words.

I am so much smaller than the things the words thought they needed to say.

Instead of running after words, I am sitting in silence, and I find myself remembering other silences I have experienced in the face of other large things, and I remember that sometimes it is a gift to feel so silent and so small.

To look up into a night sky where an ocean of stars wheels above your head! We are adrift in the arms of the galaxy--how rare and wonderful those moments are when we can really feel what that means, how indescribably tiny we are. How huge the world around us. How numerous the stars!

When I am unhappy or sick or despairing about the world, I dream of mountains, because in the mountains I feel so wonderfully small. It is while backpacking in the mountains that I learned to see the stars, for instance. The Summer Triangle spins slowly above our heads. Cygnus flies slowly, slowly across the sky. We are just tiny, sentient crumbs, looking up in awe at it all.

The largeness you turn to may not be mountains--it may be the ocean. It may be an orchestra. It may be a crowd of people marching, hoping to make the world a better place. It may be a bookstore or a library, where thousands and thousands of stories line the shelves, and every single one of those stories is an entire world.

We are so small. The universe is so large.

Sometimes it is all right to sit and listen.

Sometimes it is fine not to know what to say. Or it is not fine, but it is what it is. Sometimes there are no words.


  1. Beautiful words, Anne. I've needed them this week.

    1. Michael, you are always so kind, for which I am very, very grateful. Also I promise to come up with a cheerful and practical post the next time around!

  2. A beautiful post. Sometimes words are just not needed. Glad you found enough to make this post though. :)

  3. Glad to sit in silence with you a while, Sheena-kay. All the best to you!


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!