“The danger came in spurts; discomfort was perpetual. Dirt and cold were almost constant. Outside of food and cigarettes there were none of the little things that made life normal back home. There were no chairs, lights, floors or tables. There wasn’t any place to set anything, or any store to buy things. There were no newspapers, milk, beds, sheets, radiators, beer, ice cream or hot water. A man just sort of existed, either standing up working or lying down sleeping. There was no pleasant in-between. The velvet was all gone from living.”- Ernie Pyle
My grandma, in 1976, gave me a blank book to fill with quotes. Over the past 35 years, I’ve done just that. When I was 17 I noted quotes from Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan. At 20 I jotted sayings about children and motherhood. Then came working motherhood, separation, divorce, loneliness and finding new love, all duly noted by apt quotes. Recently the book has been a repository for poems I’ve written and quotes about writing and art.
The blank book, wrote my grandma 35 years ago, “has nothing…but in time I’m sure you can make it into something beautiful and a pleasure to read…”
Year by year, I added the velvet of life to my little book. I wove silky strands of words into a tapestry that is quite beautiful. Though I’m the only one reading now, I hope eventually my children will find it a pleasure to read.
We have an opportunity each day to add velvet to the world. Ernie Pyle, the World War II correspondent, referred to the simplicities of life as “the velvet”. He wrote elequently of ordinary things- chairs, lights, floors, tables-we take for granted, until they are taken from us by circumstances or accident or simple failure to recognize them.
Honor your velvet. Mindfully look at your surroundings today. Whether they are simple and sparse or elegant and expensive, our personal perception determines the silky softness of our lives, the people we share them with and our general outlook.
Commit yourself to love and be grateful for the velvet of life.