Diary Post: It’s all About the Small Things + Nature!

Film photos from a recent visit to The Huntington Gardens, a sprawling 120-acre Southern California botanical dream showcasing plants and flowers from around the world. My longtime, best friend Jeffrey (you may recognize him from previous posts!) came with me and we had a wonderful time. We ambled around and talked about life, often stopping to study, smell and photograph gorgeous flowers and plants (like the ones below), dreaming up concoctions and scents for his new small-batch, hand-poured candle line, I.nioi . I don’t recall if I suggested the following, or if he noticed my passion and suggested it himself, but I.nioi needed to meet the Sweet Olive tree, pronto. You may have seen my Instagram posts praising this particular plant, but if not, here is a valuable, possibly life-changing golden nugget of information: within the Japanese Garden (an area within The Huntington Gardens) is a Sweet Olive tree (scientifically named Osmanthus Fragrans, a species native to Asia). When in bloom, the scent coming from this tree is intoxicatingly euphoric, fragrant, refreshing and tantalizing. Drifting by on a cool, winter breeze, it will stop you in your tracks (or at least, I can’t imagine it not doing so. It’s too incredible!). It is unlike anything I’ve ever smelled before, and if there’s one scent I dream of having bottled up to smell at any time, it’s that of this tree. Okay. Enough about this one tree!

On this outing, I found myself, on multiple occasions, gasping in awe and jumping for joy at the beauty surrounding me. I know that may sound a little extreme or over the top, but I treasure moments like those deeply. In fact, they are some of my happiest moments, where I feel completely present and most alive, giving in to the overwhelming excitement rushing through my body. Amidst the confusion of life and all that life brings, in those moments, I suddenly feel undeniably, passionately and overwhelmingly sure about one thing in life — arguably one of the most important things to know, which feels reassuring and empowering — that true joy is found in the extraordinary of the mundane. It is found in simplicity, going on walks, observing the details of life all around, standing in awe of nature and its formidable colors and shapes and smells, it is found in intimate, vulnerable and connective conversation, feeling one with another soul and the earth, a playful perspective, candles and drawing and pondering and slowness and finding joy in the journey and smallest of places. I still often struggle to give myself these things in abundance, at times buying into society’s promises of things that should bring joy (but usually don’t) (amongst other reasons I have not yet fully analyzed), but boy does it feel good to be reminded, in an instant of shocking awe or gentle knowing, of the things that matter most. It’s all about the small things!