I recently picked up a copy of Sophie Blackall’s Things to Look Forward To so I could share it with a friend, who’s having a tough time. Before giving it to her, I paged through and was taken by the beautiful illustrations of joys, both large and small. I’ve now given the book away three times; it has become my go-to gesture for someone who could use a lift.
I first came to know Blackall’s work through her children’s books. Her tender guide to living here, If You Come to Earth, is a favorite to read to my kids. (And, speaking of things to look forward to, we’re on our library’s hold list for her newest book, Farmhouse.)
Things to Look Forward To also serves as a kind of guide to living on a planet that is, at once, filled with pain and pleasure, a challenge that remains a puzzle even into adulthood. Blackall’s own story unfolds over the course of the book, as each item on her list offers a graceful invitation to pay attention to the small moments that make a life.
Sometimes finding and holding onto hope can feel overwhelming. As a concept, hope is just a bit too big, too abstract to be helpful. Instead, focusing on something small and specific to look forward to — taking a hot shower, the first snow — feels more doable.
After reading Blackall’s list, I noticed myself keeping my own: a bike ride, winter sunshine, my children’s sleepy faces, listening to a podcast from start to finish, running into a friend at the grocery store.
Now I’d love to know, what are you looking forward to?