In the Details

March 6, 2022

Bethany Howell (she/her/hers), Low Entropy Volunteer Writer


I can get into mental states that do not allow me any joy, as though my brain has vacuumed out the beauty of the world. I spent a good portion of my life seeking out cures for this feeling. Medications and therapies help the baseline, but I still find myself struggling to truly enjoy the world around me — to feel inspired. I have tried meditation and plenty of self-help books, but it all seems to be to little avail. There are so many solutions labeled “To Help Inspire and Change Your Life!,” yet in my experience, none truly work on anything longer than short-term. Finding inspiration in everyday life is difficult if you don’t know what to look for, and it is clear that many try to capitalize on this fact.


A few years back, I tried something new. Instead of roaming around the Health and Wellness section of my local library, praying for a miracle, I decided to reflect on the past — what helped me when I was at my best. As a child, I was easily amazed, simple walks in nature were enough to keep me entertained. My parents would find me paying attention to the little details of life, stunned by the happiness I would find there. I used to discover the magic in life — what we are all searching for — so easily. 


I thought for many years that my ability to be inspired by such small things as frogs and clouds shaped like dinosaurs was something that I left in childhood. I thought this ability was, in itself, immature and inaccessible when my age grew past single digits. Yet, having no other options available to me, I decided to try to seek that magic once more.


I began carrying a camera with me as I completed my usual daily chores. It was a Nikon, almost a decade out-of-date at the time, that my parents had decided to lend me in my late teens. I kept it with me for months on end, collecting pictures of the pigeons downtown, the smiling faces of my friends between classes and the boats in the harbor atop the glistening, snow-covered ice. I sometimes look back at these photos and marvel at just how quickly I was able to pick up the little magics in life again. 


I still bring my camera along for adventures some days when I am especially not doing well — a much newer edition with such luxuries as automatic focusing — but I no longer require it to find inspiration in day-to-day life. This does not mean that all of my problems have been “fixed.” I still have days where I have trouble forcing myself out of bed. However, in times like these, I like to turn to the small things. I can always find something wondrous hiding in the mundane if I truly look. I harvest my happiness riding the bus for a long trip, listening to ballads and staring out the window as though I am in a music video. The delicate shades of the chlorophyll in a leaf never fail to help me stop the buildup of negative thoughts. 


I find my inspiration in the things everyone else overlooks. Maybe it is because they are never appreciated that I am able to truly be in awe of them. Who else would spend five minutes of her day admiring the tiny footprints left by a squirrel looking for his hidden winter stash? The trail the squirrel has left shows a pattern that — as I analyze it — appears to embody his thought process, leading from the tree, to the stump, back to the tree. I can tell that he knew exactly where to look this time, as there is a tiny hand-dug and nut-shaped hole beside the stump. It is moments like this that make me appreciate not just the small thing I am inspecting, but also the world around me as a whole. No, my problems are not all fixed by this one squirrel’s trail, but a portion of the weight of life has been lifted.


Life does not instantly heal itself when you look for inspiration in the mundane, but I truly believe that finding inspiration, however small, does help the healing process. I am, in no way, completely happy in my mindset, but I am doing better and that is what matters.



My name is Bethany Howell and I am a third-year university student majoring in psychology and minoring in family and child studies. I have a passion for writing and mental health, and my ultimate goal since age 13 has been to make a difference in the world through helping others, which is how I ended up here at Low Entropy!

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