Don’t we all ask ourselves: How can I be more present? How can I find more enjoyment in these days, right now? How can I appreciate what I have, before trying to rush on to the next stage of life?

I wrestle with these questions all the time. I want everything in my life to line up with my ideals, so I tend to attack each day as if it were a project to manage. But isn’t life supposed to be a feast of experiences to taste and savor, instead?

Having kids has reminded me that imagination is transformative. Everything doesn’t have to be as we think it is. We can see the trappings of our lives differently.

This, for me, is the point of all poetry. It’s a small and seemingly insignificant thing — but in that concision, it can deliver a potent shot of perspective.

The following poem is the title poem from my book. Its title is a reference to a LEGO ad from the 1980s. I chose it because it’s the perfect reminder: It doesn’t matter what type of chaos we’re looking at — we can choose to see this life with new eyes.

What it is is Beautiful

I’d really had it with the mess,
the way there wasn’t a single clear surface
to deflect the meager winter light,
but only piles of haphazard papers
made up of macaroni crafts
purporting to be flat.

Clothing was flung on the floor,
from jackets in the front hall
to a trail of socks and sweaters
as the kids molted
on their way to the kitchen.

I stalked through it,
seething over the futility of a to-do list
featuring anything other than
Pick up after people
— when the corner of a toy
dug into my foot.

I staggered, and blinked,
and then it was in my hand,
my arm wound back,
ready to hurl the offending plastic
straight into the trash—

but something stopped me.
Maybe it was the thought of my child
careening through the house,
wearing a million-dollar smile
and this lego creation on her head,

or maybe it was just my usual exhaustion.
I flopped down on the sofa,
raised the toy to my face,
and peered through.

The makeshift lenses
were sticky and clouded
and smelled suspiciously of banana.
But a vision of the room entered in with a glow,
and I leaned forward,

A massive bear
stood where our dining table had been,
offering his broad back for our daily rounds
of dinner and homework.

Below him,
the floor was a slick pane of ice
spread out in all directions.
As I watched, one of the kids
came running in from the hall,
then did a swift drop
and slid the length of the room
on her knees.

I laughed and stood up,
set the goggles on a shelf:
dinner wasn’t getting made
by this magic, and my ice skater
would soon be clamoring for a meal.

So I picked my way across the cold floor,
kicking lumps of clothing into corners
to clear the rink, and stopping only
to give our messy table
an affectionate pat.

I considered attempting
a knee slide right up to the stove,
but instead drew a long breath
and stepped to my post —
to undertake a task from my list
and forage in a fridge of leftovers
for items I could transform
into a feast.

© Sarah Dunning Park, from What It Is Is Beautiful (Peace Hill Press), 2012. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Win a Copy


As part of our monthly book series, Sarah would like to give TEN Simple Mom readers a copy of her new book, What it is is Beautiful. To enter your chance to win, leave any comment below this post. (If you’re reading this post via email, please click over to the original post and leave a comment on the blog.)

This giveaway has ended. Check tomorrow’s weekend links to see the winners!