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I am fond, along with everyone I know, of saying things like, "I don't even have a moment to breathe." But what that means is, "I don't take a moment to breathe." Because there are hidden moments here and there, even in the most hectic life, moments that most of us spend staring off into space, or more often at our phones' glowing informative faces—when we could be breathing, or stretching, or humming a tune, or scribbling down a few choice lines or images on whatever is at hand. The back of a receipt. An envelope.
This was the first thought I had when I heard of a new artist's book that includes facsimiles of Emily Dickinson's "envelope-poems." Now on view at the New York Public Library, this lovely object offers insight into Dickinson's later years and creative process, as well as a celebration of the poet's famous economy: the title comes from Dickinson's manuscript A 821, "the gorgeous | nothings | which | compose | the | sunset | keep." But it also offers a reminder to the rest of us non-Dickinsons in the world. It's not your materials that matter (i.e. "This crappy old laptop is keeping me from writing my memoirs!"), or even your scope. We all have envelopes, and pens, and scattered (and non-grocery-list-related) thoughts. We all have tiny moments we can transform into gorgeous nothings.
Golden moments that everybody gets
Why you need improbable goals
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