A bowl for sharing small joys:
the texture of the world is fine-grained
the texture of our lives is fine-grained
the crushing idea that we have to be “big” to make a difference
when it’s clear that every action makes a difference to something
and that small things are important
in, of and to themselves
This project started on a rainy weekend in August 2020, when I asked on social media for people to share three small joys from their day.
It was transformed, at our “trawsffurfiadau / transformations” exhibition in Powerhouse, Llandysul in October 2021, into a “bowl for sharing small joys” (neu yn y Gymraeg, “powlen i rannu pleserau bychain”).
Powlen i rannu pleserau bychain:
mae gweadedd y byd o raen main
mae gweadedd ein bywydau o raen main
y syniad llethol bod angen i ni fod yn ‘fawr’ i wneud gwahaniaeth
pan ei bod hi’n glir fod pob gweithred yn gwneud gwahaniaeth i rywbeth
a bod pethau bychain yn bwysig
ynddyn ac iddyn nhw eu hunain
Visitors were invited to write a small joy onto a paper scroll and add it to the bowl, and also to take one home with them, from the bowl.
And these are the joys that I collected in 2020, in a long and joyful list. (Randomised by the wonderful website random.org.)
When the healthiest imaginable food tastes unbelievably good. Getting randomly cuddled by M for no apparent reason but it’s nice. Putting food on the bird table and helping keep alive the very small birds that alight.
Joy of joys, no work today, happy happy day.
Watching E put on a party hat on in English. The five-lined skinks, with their blue tails, going up and down the open driveway in the sun, sometimes chased by wrens.
Finishing my pottery mouse. J’s smile. Relearning how to play Mancala with a friend. Listening to Radiohead on repeat. (I am addicted).
Playing the guitar. Seeing my new monstera leaves come through, they were only tiny five days ago and are now getting so big, its amazing to see their growth by the day. Watching my favourite Netflix drama on my phone in bed for ten minutes with no interruptions and no one knowing what I was doing!
Seeing my lime tree growing bigger every day. I also liked looking at the names of people carved into the roof beams of a shelter. Lying on my settee watching 4 episodes of Come Dine With Me while I do my hair this morning. My kitten Kaloo snuggling under the covers with me until the alarm went off.
My three small joys of my day are related to the following themes – affirmation, connection and exploration. Had my first Greggs in about six months for lunch. Was sent a lovely photo of my grandmother.
When the evening clouds above me lit up with random pinks distributed across the blue and white sky in a panorama wider than my peripheral vision could take in. In the same way a big firework at the end of a display can overpower the sense with countless dazzling, moving objects.
A little afternoon nap that I had, I’ve been working so much recently that I think my body really needed it and I feel so refreshed now! Hearing my nephew giggle. When my pets are happy to see me. Getting stuck in a new book – a trashy detective novel, but nonetheless…
The raindrops on nasturtium leaves.Inside quivering anticipating hope. Like a perfect cast, and my Caddis fly floats towards a big trout.Cuddling up with my hubby.Food with my family (it’s the first time since Christmas and its amazing). A walk on the beach between rain showers.
Watching my son enjoying tucking into a punnet of grapes.The plants in my garden. Cycling with a tail wind.
The first sip of my morning coffee – so joyful! Admiring beautiful bunch of red and white dahlias (grown on friend’s allotment) now brightening up my lounge. Taking off wet shoes and socks after a days work in the rain.
The joy of bed. Lying in bed in the early summer weekend morning with coffee and loved one looking out on the garden – the blackbird doing his rain dance, the montbretia bright among thick green foliage and the cow poking her head into the garden. Then when he has risen the pure joy of looking at the clock and knowing there is still an hour to read alone before the kids get up.
Early swim in the pool before breakfast. My nephew responded to my Birthday text. My morning yin on the beach followed by a swim in the sea.
Making a friend laugh when they were crying. Walking through thick virgin forest of Queens Wood. Having my old friend spend time with me and bringing food to share today. Coming home to a clean house and a cup of tea.
Conversation with my sister over coffee. Morning walk in the park with my sister and her dog. It’s hot in Toronto but still a wonderful way to spend an hour.
Also had some big kid joys today as they played together a bit which is freaking amazing but that’s a big joy. Watering my newly created “rockery” ( rather a grand name for a previous patch of dry parched grass). Going for a daily run. A tempest called Florence.
What makes me happy not that much, nature, music and affection.
Watching the perceptible aliveness of a rescued house plant, the vitality of it’s thriving and a potent sense of simply loving life. Relaxing while imaging new ideas. Walking in the house to hear classical music playing, a real sense of home. My tomatoes have started turning red.
The weather forecast looks like rain is on the way. I can’t water the plants as well as a good rain. Home from work, dogs and hubby welcoming me back. Playing football with M.
The joy of swimming in the sea in the sunshine. Using hot pink paint to finger paint.
The half dozen large tiger swallowtails flying around the garden below my windows – some yellow, some black. Found some orange juice I didn’t know I had. My new adopted cat meowing for me to sit with him while he eats.
Feeling all cosy inside while the weather’s quite bleak outside. The joy of having a working car (it had been a bit broken for a while).
Walk the circuit with my dog as company, noticing tiny changes in nature’s gifts. Am trying out a new cleaning method as I get really upset about having a messy and unclean house.
For the 6th day in a row my bathroom is spotless (by my standards!) And I don’t hate bath-time any more as I now have something to do while they have a bath (cleaning!)!
Enjoying all the different food as I was doing shopping in Exotica, feeling like I was everywhere in the world whilst I was only across the road. Worked out the design and cut all the wood for my next pinhole camera which is going to be 8 x10. Furball our most senior cat came to see if he could help.
My sunflower. I grew a massive sunflower (nearly 11ft), it’s pretty spectacular, my favourite things has been to sit and watch people walk past my house and look at their expressions change when they notice my beautiful sunflower.
Playing young football with my six year old grandson.
Finding joy in this challenge and my own very similar insights. The first Discovery apple. Performing to a live (socially distanced) outdoor audience. Enjoyed walking in light rain. My dog on my lap. Waking up to a comforting silence.
Figured out a shutter for my prototype 4×5 pinhole camera. The sweet brown acid of the balsamic vinegar in my lunch salad of tomato and cold bratwurst.
My cattle galloping towards me to be fed a little breakfast. When I feel particularly productive, it doesn’t happen often but I’m always happier after being able to do or make something even if it’s just doodling.
Arogl a theimlad smwddio pentwr o hen lieiniau bwrdd yn sgwariau twt. Watching cloud structures in the sky meet each other. A bit gross but my pony’s abscess burst! Hanging out with an old friend at school. Cockapoo dog ci.
Having a nap on the sofa. And the patter of raindrops. A new White orchid I got has fully bloomed.
State changes. Like a hot shower after three days of hiking and camping. Or todays plunge in a swift current. The joy of the sunshine coming out on Sunday as we have been camping for the weekend in the rain. The smell of the first coffee I make.
Chicken broth Cawl ffowlin.
Eating mum’s home made welsh cakes hot off the griddle. Discovering new music. The noise the crowd made when a particularly large bubble was created. The golden pumpkin growing bigger every day in the garden.
A lie in with my partner. When animals communicate to me in ways that changes my understanding. Like the ospreys in the tree.
I’ve had a sunflower produce yellow leaves, the first one this year. Blas a lliw mafonen berffaith i frecwast. Photo of mum and me laughing that I put in a frame yesterday.
Finally and proudly completing (and photographing) my lockdown challenge – I had to make something on the theme of ‘passing time’ out of a small box of obscure objects!
When it rains on a Sunday morning and you have nowhere to be. A lovely walk on the beach with my son and the dogs, in the washed-clean freshness of an evening after a rainy day. When I touch the morning sun’s rays. The peace and quiet and birds.
Seeing my cat meow as I got home from work, he’s always so happy to see me. The first whisky and coke with ice of an evening. The joy of camaraderie. Every one of the family helping readily and happily to prepare food, house and garden for a Sunday lunch get together with aunties, uncles and cousins.
Waking up at a perfect temperature and realising it was 7.20! Joy Sian that you have sent me this…
Tucking my dog up in bed because she’s tired after a late night. Puppy called Rafa. I went to visit my friends new puppy (like the ones on the Andrex ad), nothing can bring you joy like a puppy. Being able to self-soothe with a bear-hug pebble my daughter painted for me.
When the pieces unexpectedly come together. Like coconut milk, ginger and fresh clams in todays leftover soup. Laughing at the antics of Careful Cat. And getting a message from a local parent to whom I lent a screw from our buggy board who said I’ve made her holiday loads better (she appealed on Facebook to see if someone could lend it).
Spending time with my son. Rebuilding a saxophone and knowing so much as to the mechanics of such, a joy to take time and be clever after all these years.
Making my kids laugh.
My son texting me a daft joke which made me fall about laughing. Walking home through the warm rain.
Picking blackberries early this morning from a bridleway, where I spotted a ripe patch yesterday! Watering my house plants and looking at their growth. Yesterday’s would have included picking up and planting some crocosmia corns from a neighbour – I love them and couldn’t get any this year or last.
Smell of the sweet peas. And one from a few weeks ago that I almost told you about is… you gave me a cyclamen plant and when it finally died I threw it in the garden and thought I’d just be adding some compost but the wildflowers in front of it have now died and it’s growing again!
Seeing T’s happiness as H squeezes his fingers tight and doesn’t let them go. To effortlessly help someone well, with flow and unthinking grace. Unknowing, till later. Picking and eating figs off my own tree for breakfast. My partner K makes me a coffee after dinner every day.
I am loving that my plant is growing so rapidly in its little pot, it’s from a cutting of a cutting of my mum’s plants it brings me nearness to her every time I look at it…
The sound, sight and smell of the rain with our bedroom door open to the garden whilst lying in bed.
Having my mother’s embrace for the first time in six months. The light reflecting from my water glass is creating amazing shapes… Talking on the phone to friends about dumb meaningless things. Eating a Banana Slug that didn’t sell at the market.
Received a get well friendship box. Sitting in the gazebo listening to the thunder roll around the mountains. Playing Magic the Gathering with my children.
Watching a cat lying on the grass absorbing the winds haha.
Rain after a drought. Making pastry by hand, instead of buying it ready made. It is a meditative process. Will use it to make Blackberry Tart for a Birthday celebration. Enjoying seasonal greenery, fruit and flowers indoors, some collected for art projects and a surprise gift of sunflowers from a local grower. Beer with friends after climbing or circuits.
Playing footie with T, P and M in Queen’s wood for the first time all of us playing together and thoroughly enjoying it and trying hard to score. My friend’s children’s delight at teaching my dog a new trick. Collecting St John’s Wort flowers, sometimes with my children, for a natural dye project that I am doing.
Coffi da a gwrando cân hyfryd newydd gan Pedair – sef Llon yr Wyf (Ti’n gallu gwrando ar hwn ar youtube – mae’n lyfli). A hot shower washing away the day’s grime. Sunflower working hard to bloom. A kiss that holds endless time.
An earl grey tea from a big mug in the morning. Picking blackberries up the lane. Spontaneous hugs with my husband. Reviving rice plant Planhigyn reis yn adfwyio.
Reading ‘Braiding Sweetgrass’ by Robin Wall Kimmerer. The joy of collecting C and seeing her beautiful face and having a hug. Walking the dog.
Playing with the kitty. Walking home in the rain not worrying about getting wet and windswept.
Cwtches with Tonto (the cat) in the morning as soon as I wake up.
The joy of food. Hot steaming white basmati with a knob of salted butter and grated cheddar – so good and even better when all the kids enjoy it too.
Edible Ephemeral beauty. Dew dropped mint, homegrown tomatoes and fragrant flowers. The smell of the delicate pink David Austin roses in my mums garden. Eating the first of our ripe black grapes.
A new pair of socks.
A cold Vietnamese coffee, freshly made, waiting for me in my fridge. Nearing finishing science fair. Handstands. In 2014 I made a new year’s resolution to learn how to do handstands without a wall – I got nowhere with this, however just this week I managed to do about 2 seconds, which is a new record. I can’t replicate it and I’m a few years too late but better late than never.
Grilled mackerel, buttered multi-grain cob and a glass of red wine after a days hard work in the rain. Left over green beans in a tomato sauce made last night by D.
With thanks to the original contributors:
Roz Moreton, Alleha Jones, Saul Baum, Debi Sheppard, Chloe Baker, Marego Palser, Lyra Barlow Waters, Sarah Poland, Claire Collen, Alan Barlow, Rob Adams, Bysshe Wallace, Fionnuala Jackson, Amber Wheeler, Emma Barlow, Suzie Ross, Rithika Pandey, Babel Wallace, Cathryn Gwynn, Mark, Lucy Donald, Jasmine Sheckleford, Finn Wallace, Steve Treharne, Ian Kellett, Marcelle Quao, Andrew Downs, Steve Emery, Parn Wallace, Anne-Marie Cruz, Robin Whitney, Janneke Ritchie, Rebecca Makepeace Brown, Staci Sylvan, Kelly Richards, Jon Wheeler, Ditz Wallace, Zoe Lewis, Jos Collen, Nia Tyrrell, Penny Flowers, Bernice Mayne, Suzy Erskine, Adele Flore, Ben Elliot, Hannah Mason, Meg Scales, Aelfwyn Shipton, Angela James, Tim Beswick, Katy Hocking, Amira Mudfaery, Peter Spriggs, Pat Wallace, Paul Waite, Alex, Lorraine Wiseman, Jim Dwyer
Ac i Cath Gwynn am cyfiethu – and to Cath Gwynne for the translating.